By Terri Behling, APR, CPRC
Warren Buffett said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation. Five minutes to ruin it.” What a true statement! After acknowledging she was probably “preaching to the choir,” Saver shared some valuable tips for FPRA members to take back to the office and use when working with their executive teams. Media training should be mandatory for anyone in the organization who talks to the media.
Media Relations 101
•Say “yes” without fail to interviews, even on vacation
•Always provide a reporter with an “expert.”
•E-Mail reporters; it’s the easiest way to reach them!
•Pitch people, not achievements. Ribbon cuttings are boring, even if that is what your CEO wants. Pitch the people behind the achievements, the behind the scenes story.
•Think visually. What video/photo can the media show?
•Remain flexible. Parking lots work fine for interviews.
•Resist the urge to provide stacks of background materials.
•Embrace/pitch anything that makes you unique.
•Watch the calendar. Make your pitches timely. Pitch stories that coincide with celebrations or awareness events. Such as Earth Day, Heart Month, etc.
Timing is everything:
This is the typical day for a TV reporter working for a 5:00 pm newscast. These tips are for the daily stories, not necessarily the special series or special report.
•9:30 am: Editorial Meeting
•10:00 am: Hit the phones
•11:00 am: Hit the road
•11:30 – 1:00 pm: Interview sweet spot; if not done during this time, won’t be on evening news
•2:30 pm: Script deadline
•3:30 pm: Editing
•4:00 pm: Drive to live shot location
•4:30 pm: Set up live truck
•5:00 pm: Live at 5
Improve your interviews:
•Use fewer words: Don’t jam all your knowledge into one answer
•No technical jargon! Public suffers from information overload
•Less = More: News releases – five sentences or less; single space news release goes into page two = DOA (dead on arrival)
•Aunt Tilly/Kindergarten Class/Dr. Oz (you explain things to Aunt Tilly differently than how you talk to others) Dr. Oz is master at explaining diseases to a kindergarten kids. He is a master communicator!
•Use the plainest English possible
How to make a story “Go Away”
•“No comment” = “We’re Guilty”. This is Lauren’s opinion and what she recommends to her clients because if you aren’t talking, others will. There are several other ways to say “No Comment” without using those words
•Respond immediately & very clearly
•Get it ALL out and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know all the facts
•A quick email response avoids “No comment” “We take this very seriously, all hands on deck, will get back to you as soon as we can.” You said nothing, but avoided saying “No comment.”
•Be boring: “It’s an unfortunate situation for all involved.”
•Not participating is risky! Reporter will cite this and do story anyways or worse, they will interview a disgruntled employee.
•Bring back the news conferences! News conferences are a great tool for live opportunities and multiple newscasts. News conferences should be resurrected.
Additional Tips from audience questions:
Q: What do you do if no one in the organization wants to do interviews with a reporter who burned the company before?
A: Don’t stonewall the reporter it’s like a dog with a bone; do email responses to reporter. Provide email statements or schedule feature meeting with the reporter, give your team time to prepare for the interview.
Q: What about exclusives? For good press?
A: Exclusives aren’t terrible, but if it’s a good story, why not tell as many people as possible? Exclusives can backfire. If you didn’t include everyone, they may not cover you in future.
A: Most stations are not allowed to use them. FCC mandates that if you use VNR video or provided by a third party, you are required to acknowledge that several ways.
Follow on Twitter @LaurenSaver
Lauren Saver is the president of Headlines Consulting, LLC. Saver and her team work their media consulting magic to help companies and organizations of all sizes strategically plan and execute any type of media campaign. Her extensive media
experience and insider secrets can effectively enhance an organization’s image and expand its business.
Saver has more than a decade of experience as a television news anchor and reporter in Florida, New York and Maryland. Some of her career highlights include national coverage of the Casey Anthony case for Fox News Channel, providing live Presidential campaign coverage, and guiding Floridians through several major hurricanes and tornadoes during live broadcasts on NBC. Lauren has also served as a Featured Speaker and Panelist for the Public Relations Society of America, Florida Public Relations Association, Women In Business and Femfessionals organizations.
She graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from the prestigious Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.