Avoid this classic mistakes when dealing with journalists and the press

When looking for ways to gain brand awareness and reach new audiences, the media can be the greatest weapon in your arsenal. Their platforms can help spread the word in an engaging manner. When used well, the media’s influence can be crucial.

However, gaining media coverage isn’t easy. So, when you do secure an opportunity, it’s vital that you make the most of it. Unfortunately, far too many companies fall into some very common pitfalls that can reduce the impact greatly. If you want to unlock the full potential of yours, here are five issues that you must avoid.

Mistake #1: Failing to consider the media’s agenda

Media outlets aren’t interested in your business, not least because there are plenty of others out there doing similarly great things. Their job is to inform and entertain their audiences with unique content, which is why they need an angle. Promoting the things that make your venture and story stand out from the crowd is far more likely to prick a journalist’s ears. Without that sense of personality and character, their incentive to cover the piece will be minimal.

Mistake #2: Not planning what you want to say

In the world of media interviews, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Without planning what you’ll say, you could miss out on an opportunity to gain the promotion you desperately crave. Worse still, being shy and unprepared can lead to boring answers that could lead to the media outlet dropping the story altogether. While some elements of the conversation will be off the cuff, having prepared answers and quotes can work wonders. Likewise, creating a sense of structure can help move things along in a way that works for you as well as the journalist.

Mistake #3: Being overly industry focused

Providing insight into the business is vital for both parties. However, it’s important to remember that the media outlets aren’t experts. Even if they are, there’s a large portion of their audience that won’t be. Therefore, the wording of your point is as important as the quality of the content. Avoid overly technical journey and try to explain things in a way that you would to someone with an interest but little expertise. Let’s face it; that’s exactly the category that most of the end users will fall into.

Mistake #4: Failing to express your points efficiently

From a journalist’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than needless waffle. Their job is to present a concise story to their readers, viewers, and listeners. Your answers play an integral role in their ability to do this. Therefore, it is your responsibility to present views and information without wasting time. Try to think of it like an essay – if you can’t sum up your point in one sentence, the views are too diffused. You can still inject additional colour and explanation afterwards, but the main aim is to express the vital info ASAP. Otherwise, you could get cut off before you even have the chance.

Mistake #5: Wasting the media’s time

Like you, the journalists and media executives are busy people. Moreover, they usually work on several stories at any given time. If yours starts causing more hassle than it’s worth, they could drop it altogether. Furthermore, the company could soon start to gain a negative reputation. Sadly, once those ties are severed, it’s almost impossible to repair them. Always make yourself available to answer any correspondence, and you’ll keep them far happier. Besides, it’s the best way to ensure you get more coverage too.

Jenny has been reporting on small business issues since 2001 where she held a number of freelance positions across the leading SME publications in the UK. Specialist subjects included SME financing and tax.

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