Let's not pretend—there are no surefire or guaranteed ways to win at the game of media relations. But, as Lee Davies, SVP, director of client services, health practice, at Makovsky, says, "there are definitely ways to improve your chances."
Davies offers three such ways of boosting your odds of landing the media coverage you desire:
- Know your topic. "Conventional wisdom dictates that you should know what interests reporters," Davies says. "What interests them is and always will be content [that matters to them]—and to the people who read their work. In my experience, I have always advocated for account people to deliver their own stories. Who can possibly understand and tell it better? Certainly not a media department. Own it and demonstrate your knowledge."
- Be honest about the importance of the news. "Truly important news will sell itself on its own merits, so watch out for hyperbole and overstatement. I used to have a fondness for using exclamation points. A well-known top-tier reporter once told me, 'Don’t ever use exclamation points unless you have a cure for cancer.' Ouch. But I never (well, rarely) did that again. I will sometimes tell a reporter why a piece of information I am sharing is not newsworthy. This approach may not get me immediate coverage, but it has paid dividends down the road in terms of enhanced credibility."
- Why and why now? "Prepare for every media conversation by disciplining yourself to answer two key questions: 1). Why should the reporter pay attention to what I have to say? and 2.) Why should the reporter pay attention now? It’s harder than you think. Perhaps you can provide access to a difficult-to-reach expert or offer an exclusive. Understand that the conversation is not about you. It’s about the reporter."
A final non-guarantee from Davies that may improve your odds of getting coverage: “Keeping it real is the most effective way to gain the eyes and ears of reporters,” says Davies. “A bit of humility, modesty and understatement can go further than you think.”
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