Pipe Perfection Plumbers in the media

Essential media skills for business owners

Good media skills

If positive media coverage is part of your business’ marketing plan, it’s essential to know how to become part of the pitching process so media outlets get to know your business and what it represents.

Know the audience

Every media outlet represents an audience and you want this audience to be complementary to your potential customers. Make sure the message you want to carry suits the media outlet’s audience or readership, as being able to provide benefit to the right people is key. It helps enormously if you are a regular viewer/listener/reader of the program or publication you’re pitching to.

Know the angle

Journalists and producers deal with a lot of businesses that want to be featured so make sure you, your product and/or your business have a point of difference that captures media attention. Find an angle that will distinguish you from competitors and work favourably to represent the business.

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  • •    The business spokesperson: If everyone on a panel agrees, present an alternative view. You don’t need to be contrarian, but it helps to introduce an angle that others may not have considered. Similarly, if you’re offering a comment on an event or issue, don’t be afraid to offer something different to other commentators.
  • •    The product/business: Press home your unique selling proposition (USP), answering the question: what makes you different and better from your competitors? Being able to present this clearly to a journalist/producer will help them pick your product or business to feature over others. It is also important that you present this USP in an interesting or newsworthy way, rather than a ‘sales’ way.

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Know how to pitch

Some programs or publications will have a callout process for spokespeople or products, in which case they will outline the pitching process. If this is the case, follow it to the letter; make it as easy as possible for them to select you. Don’t give a journalist or producer any excuse to discount you; if they’ve requested a hi-res image with every pitch and you don’t have one, you’ve already made it easier for them to dismiss you.

Unsolicited pitches require a different tack because timing and tailoring make a big difference.

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  • •    Timing: Familiarise yourself with the cycle of production/publication; pitch at the beginning of the cycle when they can accommodate you. Also make sure the content of your pitch fits well with current events and/or suits any theme the media outlet has.
  • •    Tailoring: Relevance is also key. Show you understand the outlet’s audience and tailor your pitch to them. If you would like to offer an exclusive on anything, it needs to be enticing.

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Securing good media coverage is not difficult but it does require some skill and knowledge to get it right. If you’re not confident in this area, consider hiring a media or public relations (PR) agency to represent your business; they are experts in this field.

Brushing up on your media skills? Here is a refresher on some key dos and don’ts:

DO

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  • •    Be polite to journalists. They have long memories.
  • •    Call journalists in the morning/at the beginning of a cycle. All outlets run to a deadline and by the end of the cycle, stories are generally locked in.
  • •    Make sure you follow through on any promises. Do your best to provide any information they ask for.
  • •    Sign up as a source on SourceBottle.com; its website and daily email contains information on journalists looking for sources. When you find a callout that’s relevant, reply according to instructions.

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DON’T

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  • •    Demand that a journalist/producer should run your story.
  • •    Ask to see the final story before it is printed/aired. The journalist generally has the final say on what they publish, and asking to see it can offend.
  • •    Assume that anything you say will be off the record. Don’t say anything to a journalist that you wouldn’t want to see printed.
  • •    Call journalists to check if they got your email, or keep calling them when they say they’re not interested.

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