Sunday, February 04, 2007

Beth Chapman: "Putting Your Best Foot Forward: The Media is Always on Deadline"

The following article was written by PR expert Beth Chapman of Ink & Air.

Always prep your staff about how to handle the media. Work with the primary people on your phones to understand the importance of phone etiquette with the media. They are always on deadline. Let’s repeat that, the media is ALWAYS on deadline. Therefore, it becomes urgent that they reach you as soon as possible.

Why the urgency? The media keeps dialing for sources as long as it takes to find someone to answer their questions. They do not wait for call backs. The early bird -- well, you know the rest of that saying.

Do: Call or e-mail the reporter making the query immediately. Tomorrow will not work. When you call, if you do not reach them, give them all of your contact information, including office phone, cell phone and e-mail address. They may e-mail their question while on the phone with someone else. Time is of the essence.

Do Give a thoughtful response. You are competing for “top of mind” awareness with the reporter. When you find out the question, ask the time frame and whether you could have a few minutes to e-mail your thoughts. If they prefer a verbal interview, try to write notes of the points you make. Don’t let the reporter hang up without giving you their phone and e-mail. As soon as you finish the call, send them an e- mail synopsis of what it is you thought you said. Stay on point.

Do: Offer the reporter additional professional sources. Never hesitate to give a reporter someone who is specifically able to answer the question. You get points for not wasting their time.

Do: Offer additional materials If appropriate, ask a reporter if they would like to receive additional material that supports your point, tax codes, bulletins from professional organizations, or overviews found in trade journals. This may require a special fax number they will give you.

Don’t Guess! One of the worse things you can do is take a stab at the answer. It is also not smart to become an “instant” expert by doing a quick review of the subject with reference material you have on your desk. If the question is not spot on in your area of expertise, don’t go there.

Don’t share the topic of a media query with other media. It may be tempting to discuss with a second reporter what the first one just asked. It is considered bad form in the journalism world. A reporter will not trust you going forward if another reporter uses you for the same story at the same time. Wait until the first reporter’s story is published.

Got questions for Beth Chapman? Post them as a "Comment" below.

Visit the SusanCFA blog again next week for more do’s and don’ts of working the media and suggestions for overcoming likely pitfalls.

This is Susan, copying Q&A from the Comments section for your reading ease:

Anonymous said...

Beth,

How would you handle the guerilla marketing campaign, from Turner Broadcasting's point of view and from the city of Boston?

Can guerilla marketing work any more, or does it now have to be so shocking as to be negative?

7:35 PM


Beth Chapman said...

Turner Broadcasting has dealt with very negative PR in a quick, concise manner and, by assessing themselves their own penalty beyond the actual costs of the emergency created, they have effectively said "Mea Culpa" in a very public way. No large corporation, receiving good PR counsel, would ever want such a public "scandal" to keep making news, much less make its way to court. They have very effectively controlled the negative media hype.



Guerilla marketing is about finding and communicating to specific communities. There are many ways to do this that do not include posting anything on public infrastructure which historically has been against most municipal bylaws. I do not believe good guerilla marketing needs to be shocking or negative, but equisitely targeted to the demographic sought. A focus group, or groups for the purposes of brainstorming with this demographic would uncover opportunities for marketing that are creative, effective, and legal.



If nothing else, this is a very loud and clear wake up call for everyone over the age of 25, and particularly those in government, to learn about blogging and turn to it for public sentiment and information during an emergency.


Anonymous said...

Our firm is a high net worth investment manager based in the Boston. Our clients mainly reside in the New England, New York, Florida, and parts of California. While we have clusters of clients in other geographical areas we would like to gain more national exposure. Could you provide us with any tips as to how we may expand our client base further?


Beth Chapman said...

I make presentations to groups of financial advisors all over the country. I seldom find any who have made successful inroads with local media for a specific reason -- local media does not cover investment management. Oh, they cover firms opening, and closing and scandals, but the basic metropolitan newspapers use syndicated columnists to cover personal finance. High net worth families, however, read all of the national business media. Reaching national media is a matter of story idea development, targeting specific publications and reporters, and sending good story ideas once a month to those reporters. The stories can be based on client questions that you know would interest the readers of your target publications. Working with the national media takes time, and persistence, but will be vastly more satisfying that trying to get local publications to cover your ideas. One other suggestion is to look at the industries or professions of your best clients, and target those publications as a means of reaching good clients like the ones you already have.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth,

How would you handle the guerilla marketing campaign, from Turner Broadcasting's point of view and from the city of Boston?

Can guerilla marketing work any more, or does it now have to be so shocking as to be negative?

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Beth Chapman said...

Turner Broadcasting has dealt with very negative PR in a quick, concise manner and, by assessing themselves their own penalty beyond the actual costs of the emergency created, they have effectively said "Mea Culpa" in a very public way. No large corporation, receiving good PR counsel, would ever want such a public "scandal" to keep making news, much less make its way to court. They have very effectively controlled the negative media hype.



Guerilla marketing is about finding and communicating to specific communities. There are many ways to do this that do not include posting anything on public infrastructure which historically has been against most municipal bylaws. I do not believe good guerilla marketing needs to be shocking or negative, but equisitely targeted to the demographic sought. A focus group, or groups for the purposes of brainstorming with this demographic would uncover opportunities for marketing that are creative, effective, and legal.



If nothing else, this is a very loud and clear wake up call for everyone over the age of 25, and particularly those in government, to learn about blogging and turn to it for public sentiment and information during an emergency.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our firm is a high net worth investment manager based in the Boston. Our clients mainly reside in the New England, New York, Florida, and parts of California. While we have clusters of clients in other geographical areas we would like to gain more national exposure. Could you provide us with any tips as to how we may expand our client base further?

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Beth Chapman said...

I make presentations to groups of financial advisors all over the country. I seldom find any who have made successful inroads with local media for a specific reason -- local media does not cover investment management. Oh, they cover firms opening, and closing and scandals, but the basic metropolitan newspapers use syndicated columnists to cover personal finance. High net worth families, however, read all of the national business media. Reaching national media is a matter of story idea development, targeting specific publications and reporters, and sending good story ideas once a month to those reporters. The stories can be based on client questions that you know would interest the readers of your target publications. Working with the national media takes time, and persistence, but will be vastly more satisfying that trying to get local publications to cover your ideas. One other suggestion is to look at the industries or professions of your best clients, and target those publications as a means of reaching good clients like the ones you already have.

8:31 AM  

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