Saturday 10 December 2016

Getting the Media to Notice You

First things first, introductions.

Hello, my name is Catherine Miller, long time blogger, first time author. Thanks for joining me. In a previous life I blogged weekly, for years, safe behind the protective cloak of the company brand, regularly doling out advice on the latest trends in digital and the web to a growing number of subscribers and commentators. Now it’s just me.

I have to admit I have a newfound admiration for the people (and I know there will be many of you reading this right now) who put themselves and their opinions out there so unabashedly for all the world to see (and potentially criticise!). Although that’s not to say that I have anything against a friendly debate (and I’ll take this opportunity to ask that you always pull me up on flaws in my argument, or anything important I might have missed), because if nothing else in life, in the words of our Australian CEO, Michelle Hutton, “one should aim to be a worthy adversary”.

To be a worthy adversary in this industry I think you need to have a thirst for knowledge (and be willing to share it). As such I think it’s particularly fitting that my first blog impart some recently gained wisdom from an industry event (thanks SourceBottle) that was all about “Getting the Media to Notice You”.

Getting the Media to Notice You

In this very competitive industry, often (but not entirely) success comes down to getting the media to notice you in the first place. The following are my five top picks from the many valuable pieces of advice that came from these esteemed members of the media:

·         Janice Breen Burns, Fashion Editor, The Age

·         Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Senior Journalist, BRW

·         Tim Verrall, Producer, MixFM

·         Tom Fahey, Producer on The Circle, Channel 10

Much of this will be first nature for most of you, but I don’t think it ever hurts to get back to basics every once in a while.

1.      Be prepared. Know the publication/station and why your story is relevant to them, and specifically, where it fits. Know the first and last name of the person you’re trying to get in touch with and what their role is at the publication/station. Familiarise yourself with their work. Nobody likes being treated like they’re just another name on the list. Have you considered following your favourites on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn?

2.      Pick your timing. Consider the hours the person you’re trying to get in touch with works, and remember the lead time of the publication/station you’re pitching to. Does it need to be urgently addressed now? What is the turnaround time? Will the story still be relevant when they go to press/air?

3.      Pluck up the courage to call. For anybody who is willing to pluck up the courage and make the call, it seems the media are willing to hear out what you have to say. And listen up Small Business, apparently this goes especially for you. The media like to support the little guys. The reverse is true for the follow-up phone call. If you’ve already sent an email but haven’t heard back it’s because they a) haven’t managed to get to the bottom of their hundred-strong emails yet, b) aren’t interested or the story isn’t relevant, or c) they’ve filed you away for a rainy day. Don’t ruin your chances by pestering. Having said that, if within a reasonable time period you haven’t heard back, feel free to shoot through an email explaining that under the circumstances, you plan to offer the story to another reporter within the organisation – and do just that.

4.      Send the email. Apparently email is still the preferred method of contact, and it’s been referred to as the world’s best personal filing system. The search functionality of email programs allow users to search against any number of fields, including not only the name of the person who sent the email, but also the keywords within the subject line or content of the email. So if your email has been filed away for a rainy day, consider the search needed to track it down (in other words, make it quick and easy for both the reader/program to establish/track down what type of product, service or story category your email will belong to). Keep it short sharp and succinct for best results.

5.      Be creative, but tell it like it is. Be creative in the way you tell (not just sell) the story, and use the right language. If you’re pitching to television, tell them the way you visualise it playing out, if you’re pitching to radio, describe the way you hear it being broadcast, and remember not to go too far – you don’t want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. With all this in mind, it’s also of the utmost importance to be absolutely transparent. Be honest about who you are, who’s best interests you represent, and about the quality of the opportunity. And if you face rejection, under absolutely no means should you attempt to go over anybody’s heads to get the story out there…

So there you have it, PR 101, from the gatekeepers themselves. I hope you found this refresher helpful.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more from me on all things Digital, PR and everything in between. Until next time…