How far have we come in Media Relations?
One of the benefits of tidying up the office is you run across presentations, materials and information you forgot you had. Take the presentation I stumbled across under one of several piles on my office floor, "Building Effective Relationships with Press and Analysts," dated June 5, 1996. What struck me most, besides the fact that there were ZERO references to social media, community building and engaging non-traditional media and analysts, were some tips that are still relevant today, after more than fifteen years:
How to get the media's attention: Provide a news hook. Timing is everything. Less is more including careful targeting. And, my personal favorite, close the loop.
Role of the trade press: Report on news of interest to their readership. Must maintain objectivity and be prepared. They cover bad as well as good but their goal is to be fair, balanced and accurate.
What the trade press need: Sources. "Scoops" -- and no this has nothing to do with ice cream or ladles. Hype-free, verifiable facts. Access to information, executives, details, customers. Responsiveness. Independent corroboration.
Role of the business press: News. Cover geographic or industry beats. Need translators for non-specialists. Cover broad trends and impact stories.
What the business press need: Sizeable and/or public companies. Major trends affecting broad population. Details, including dollar amounts on deals. Accessible information.
And a few of the "tips" or "pointers" found in the presentation were well reasoned and still hold true today when engaging with either media audience. These are tried and true practices for any engagement including bloggers and pundits as well. We'll look at the industry analyst side of the equation in our next blog.
Value a reporter's time. Demonstrate you know the publication and the reporter. Keep appointments, or call to cancel. Gear discussions to the reporter's level of interest. Follow through on promises. Show passion for your products, services. Assume everything is "on the record."
And, of course, the presentation covered the usual Don'ts as well, which all of us who have worked in media relations know are a PR person's worst nightmare.
Don't pre-announce. Don't be cagey. Don't ask the reporter if he or she will write. Don't ask to review the article. Don't promise something you can't keep. Don't feign knowledge.
As much as the media landscape has changed over the past fifteen years, there are still areas that remain the same. Sure, for those of us in specialty areas, especially storage, know beats are broader and there are fewer specialists within each technology area. For example, in the past you may have been lucky to speak to a storage reporter that was only responsible for hardware, disk or tape arrays and one for software and services. Now you are more likely to find one main reporter responsible for all aspects of the storage industry. No small feat in and of itself, and which makes what reporters do, like Chris Mellor at The Register, Chris Preimesberger at eWEEK, Dave Raffo at SearchStorage, Lucas Mearian at Computerworld and Joe Kovar at CRN, all that more impressive.
So, what do you think? Have the fundamentals of engagement changed over time or are the main principles still applicable?
Disclosure: The presentation was not something that I, or any of my colleagues at Lois Paul & Partners created.