All of us would like to have good media relations with our local paper or TV station.  Weblog are always looking for new and different stories.  They want you to give them information, especially if you give them good stories that is well edited.   

Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Successful Media Relations

These tips were distributed by Joyce Wilden, Public Relations Director, Mercedes Homes Inc.

  1. Do return phone calls.  Always, always, always.  Even if it’s just to say, “Thanks so much for the call, but we don’t have anything to contribute to this story.  Please call us the next time.”
  2. Do respect deadlines.  Everything a reporter, editor, free lancer or staff writer does, involves a deadline.  By the time they contact you, the clock is already ticking.  If they don’t volunteer their deadline, ask.
  3. Don’t send more information than is needed.  If you’re emailing or faxing information, highlight or bold the important stuff.  Don’t make them look for a needle in a haystack – because they may not find it and will have to use whatever they did find for the story.    
  4. Don’t ever ask to “check” an article ahead of time.  This is considered insulting to a news professional. If you’re concerned about the writer getting the nuances right, you can always email a bulleted list recapping your top points, etc.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for the questions in writing.  Many writers are happy to oblige, as it signals your willingness to help them.  This can sometimes be preferable to “winging it” during a free-wheeling conversation where you could end up saying more than you intended.
  6. Do send photos.  You may already have terrific shots that will add to the article and save the writer time dispatching a photographer.  Agree on appropriate file size and format before emailing.  Win-win. 
  7. Do pitch your own story idea. If you don’t have something to contribute to the story that’s being developed.  Sometimes writers can go back to their editors and change the story focus if you’ve got something interesting.  Win-win.
  8. Do submit your own material – and tell them they are free to use it as their own.  If you have (non-proprietary) material you’ve written and it can be easily adapted for all or part of a story, hand it over with your blessing and let your ego take a back seat.  Keep the goal in mind: you want exposure in the media; they want a story. Win-win.
  9. Don’t badmouth one reporter to another or go on about a past bad experience you had with another writer, paper, etc.  No one will take kindly to your trashing one of their own.  Plus, they really don’t care about your experience. They’ve got a story to get out.
  10. Do send an email of thanks after a good article appears or a story runs.  If a concept or point is mistaken, contact the reporter so that they can have the correct information for any related stories they may be planning.  If there is an egregious error –ask for a printed correction.

I would add some additional tips.

  1. Don’t speak in the Language of Zion.  Be sure that everyone will understand your terms and termonology.  More and more, our society is becoming secularized. 
  2. Don’t be religious.  Remember Christianity is a relationship with God–much more than a religion.  The more relational you can make your information, the more likely you will have that your piece will be used.
  3. Tell the story of your ministry.  Don’t sermonize.
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