From the October 2008 issue of Boomer Market Advisor • Subscribe!

Reaching out to the media

Establishing a profile in the media can be an important business development tool -- it builds credibility with boomer clients and is an effective way to differentiate you from the competition. But reporters can be elusive and securing coverage without an understanding of the basics of media relations isn't always guaranteed. Andrew Silver, director of public relations for Jackson National Life Insurance Company, offers the following 10 tips to improve your chances of getting positive media coverage.

  1. Contact your local media first to build relationships - Gaining the trust of your local media is just as important as reaching out to national media. Remember to be trend-oriented and focus on the major issues facing your market.
  2. Be conscious of a reporter's deadline -When working with a reporter or editor, it's crucial to understand that you need to work on their timeline, not yours. Have a designated point of contact in your office who fields media calls. Once the call comes in, be sure to respond quickly if you intend to participate in the interview opportunity.
  3. Keep track of media personnel who contact you - Make room in your Rolodex for reporter contact information - think of it as building a database. Treat media as clients you should keep informed on your areas of expertise when appropriate.
  4. Develop three key messages for your interview - Key messages are the heart, soul and essence of ALL communications, both written and spoken. Write down talking points before you do an interview and rehearse. It's your story and if you want to control it, you need to stay focused on your key messages.
  5. Give positive feedback - Let the reporter or editor responsible for your media "hit" know that you appreciate the fairness and accuracy of the story.
  6. Recognize that there is no such thing as "off the record" - Simply stated: if you don't want to see it in print, don't say it.
  7. Don't speculate or comment on topics outside of your area of expertise - If you're asked a question that you don't know the answer to or are uncomfortable answering, simply say so and then bridge back to the main points that you want to make. Don't "wing it" and hope for the best.
  8. Avoid jargon and technical terms - Be sure to use plain, simple language and speak in short sentences. Don't assume that the reporter understands the subject. Stop periodically throughout the interview to make sure the reporter understands your point.
  9. Don't ask if you can read the article before it's printed - This is an understandable request, but it also happens to be a breach of etiquette. Offer to clarify points if needed or verify your quotes before the interview is over.
  10. Be personable - Reporters like working with people who make doing business easier. Making a genuine connection can increase the likelihood that they will contact you again in the future.
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