Fast Company

Talking to the Media: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Talking to the media can be daunting – and is for many people.  I have often wondered about this.  I see my clients in awe of being able to speak to the media.  It is almost of the same ilk as public speaking I guess.  Maybe it is because a media person can rip you apart or set you on a pedestal with one fell swoop.

Not in my world.  The media are just like any other people.  They respond to the same things we all respond to – manners, good communication, ability to tell them what they want to know and the understanding they need of their time.  And you have to know the rules of engagement.  For example, you would never talk to an 80 year old war veteran the way you would to a teenager.

Working with the media does take some research.  You also have to understand what each journalist you want come in contact with is interested in, what they write, blog or talk about, what their passions are and how they portray the people and companies that they write about.

It is like any other client.  You know what your clients’ needs are.  And you know the difference in what you can say to one client in comparison to a completely different client.  You know their go buttons and probably know what turns them off as well.

So think of the media as your client.  They are individuals that are like anyone else.  You are dealing with an individual who is then communicating to the masses.  Ah ha – that is what you think!  There is no such thing as the masses.  You didn’t know that?

Every media outlet has a target market.  No one communicates to the masses.  So not every media outlet is going to be right for you or your company.  Get to know who writes about your industry, read their articles, listen to and watch their shows, learn their style.  And figure out WHO they are speaking to.  KNOW their target market.  Get educated on what they deal with on a daily basis.  And then when you do get the chance to talk to them treat them like a human being and not a receptacle for your promotional message.

How would you like to be pitched every time someone spoke to you about topics you could care less about?  What if no one ever asked you if you had time to listen to what they had to say?  What if no one ever listened to you and only talked about what they wanted to talk about?  What would you do?

So the media is not the big bad wolf.  It is just that companies do not take the time to craft their own message, and do not learn the rules of engagement for dealing with the media.  And they suffer the consequences as a result.  Media relations is just that – relations.  It takes knowing people, knowing how to predict what different people will do and being able to guide and control the media message to secure a larger market share.

Now, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

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