You want your execs to become known as experts in the industry. You want journalists to consider your communications department or agency not just a source of pitches, but a reliable source of information they can depend upon at all times. But junior-level PR pros who lack proper training and motivation may just be damaging your credibility on both fronts. A publisher from PR NEWS parent company PBI Media recently was conducting research for the launch of a new publication. She called several agency contacts asking to speak to corporate experts on background to gain a better understanding of the industry. Most experts would jump at the chance to get on a publication's good side before it's even launched. Unfortunately, most of the junior-level agency professionals the publisher contacted were a bit more near-sighted. "They want their clients to get ink, but they don't want me to talk to them if it's just for background," the publisher says. "One woman was excited to get her client quoted. Then she found out it was for research and said, 'Well, I don't know if we can get anyone to talk to you.' This is so short-sighted and annoying." These days, many journalists are in the same position, whether they're launching a new pub or taking over a new beat due to the high turnaround in the media industry. They're looking for resources to get them up-to-speed on an industry, and when they find a good source, they're not likely to pass him over when they're interviewing for attribution. Training for junior staffers should emphasize the importance of meeting journalists' needs, not a quota for hits. So, when a reporter calls asking for resources like background interviews, the response should be an enthusiastic "yes." The effort may not result in short-term media impressions, but it will make a long-term impression on that journalist, who will likely return to your expert for quotes again and again. Training Tool: Edward Segal, marketing strategies columnist for The Wall Street Journal's Startupjournal.com, emphasizes putting yourself in a journalist's shoes in a recently- released video. "Secrets to Understanding and Working with the Media" is based on Segal's years of experience as a journalist and PR professional and includes many of the strategies Segal and other media trainers would provide in a more expensive in-person session. His suggestions: Give reporters what they want - NOT reformatted ad materials, but information that makes it easier to do their jobs. Segal tells PR NEWS that PR pros need to "check their ego and the ego of their client at the door. Journalists are looking for good stories and someone to be a good storyteller." The video is available for $95; contact Segal at 707/823-5375.
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