Trylon Communications  - August 2004

Good Terms

One of the most valuable things a company can do is establish good relationships with the media. This does not mean bugging media members to death – it means becoming a valuable resource that journalists and editors can rely on for solid information in your industry. Here are several methods to get on good terms with the media.

Be accessible. Make sure the media knows where to find you. Make it easy by placing a link to a media contact information page in a prominent position on your Web site. At the minimum, have your media contact information at the top of the site’s “Contact Us” or “About Us” pages.

Answer the call. Too often, reporters call a company at deadline, only to be put on hold or sent into voicemail. Calling them back later is no way to score points. All media calls should be handled personally by the most qualified employee available. If your media representative is out, the next most responsible person should handle the call. Never drop an opportunity.

Be agreeable. Don’t argue with journalists. It’s the quickest way to make enemies who can make your life hell. You can present your side of the story without getting confrontational or irritable.

Get perspective. Understand that what you want from a story may not be what reporters are looking for. Try to understand their perspective and present your information as helpfully as possible. If you can’t help them on a particular call, don’t waste their time – tell them. Being honest will earn you future calls on more germane subjects.

Never cancel appointments. If an emergency keeps you from an interview or briefing, whether on the phone or in person, make sure someone else keeps the appointment. Never let a journalist down.

Make them look good. Provide journalists with more information than they ask for whenever you can. Helping them by providing valuable research and information can make you a hero in their eyes. But make sure it’s useful information on the core subject and not fluff. Journalists can see through a sales pitch and won’t want to use you again if you take that approach.

Once you have established relationships with media, work to keep those relationships alive. This doesn’t mean calling journalists every week with useless information. Call them when you have reliable information on industry news – even if it doesn’t concern your company. Giving journalists an inside scoop on current events will get you on their source list of and keep you there.