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Honing Your Reporter Relations: 15 Tips for Media Preparedness
By: Bulldog Reporter
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I began my career in television, which lent itself to the near-decade I would later spend as a media spokesperson for several very large energy companies. During that period, depending on the day, I could be speaking to reporters on issues as mundane as a random power outage affecting one neighborhood to detailing the minutiae of nuclear security in the wake of the September 11 tragedy and everywhere in between.

Since then I’ve been counseling others–media spokespeople, corporate executives, military personnel, professional athletes and more—on how to engage with reporters effectively. Recently I’ve been doing quite a lot of it, and being rather fresh in my mind, I’d like to share 15 baseline tips, some of which are my own thoughts and others culled from respected industry colleagues as well as journalists.

1. Message is the bedrock: Message is the foundation of everything and anything in the marketing communications and reputation management world. If you cannot effectively articulate the value proposition of your organization, product, service or issue, why should anyone else care, listen or be influenced?

2. Have a strategy: If you were planning on having a meaningful conversation with someone who was important to you, wouldn’t you plan it out and think about the key points you wished to get across? Of course, which is why, in preparation for any interview, you should always go into it with the three key tenants of your message that you wish to stress. Then you can still allow the reporter to lead the conversation, even as you work to steer it back to your main points.

3. Be reasonable: In the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump has positioned himself as the loudest voice in the room while alienating significant groups he will likely need in order to win the general election. He’s been perceived by media as the antithesis of the reasonable party in the conversation while Ohio Governor John Kasich has staked a spot as the reasonable alternative. Being the reasonable party—not yelling the loudest but calmly making a case for your position—is an essential component to delivering a positive message to media, customers and other constituents.

4. Stay simple: There’s a quote that is often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that goes, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and it applies to media relations. Keep it simple, and avoid the weeds of needless details and deep technical jargon. Find the fundamentals of what you are trying to articulate, and avoid the jargon or inside baseball that only your wonkiest colleagues care about.

5. Don’t talk down: While you want to keep it simple, by the same token, do not talk down to the reporters or “dumb things down.” It’s a good idea to simply ask, “Are you familiar with the industry jargon?” If they say yes, then by all means use it—people appreciate when you respect their intellect. If they say no, then they will appreciate your willingness to dive deeper.


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About the Author
This article was originally published on Bulldog Reporter. A link to the original post follows the article.

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