How to deal with the media
12.01.11 | Posted in General
As a media owner (I publish Latte magazine for Business Chicks) I get to see the process from that side, dealing with people who want to get in the media, and people who do eventually get featured. Being in this position has taught me some valuable lessons on how to deal with the media, and of course, what not to do. Here are some top level tips for anyone who’s hoping to increase their media profile this year. I’ll post my top tips on what NOT to do in the next few days – stay tuned.
* When pitching a story, try think of an angle if you can. We get press releases all the time from PRs and individuals, with a cover note saying something like “Here’s the bio of xxxx – they’re really great and we thought you might like to feature them”. It makes our editorial team’s job heaps easier and more fun if you can pitch some sort of angle like: “Here’s the bio of xxxx – they’re really great and you may like to consider them for a story on how to save thousands of dollars off your mortgage each year in three simple steps.” Now, that’s more interesting to our readers than just reading a piece on someone who’s ‘really great’. And the reason this step is important is because we don’t know you like you do – we can’t mind read and know that you’re an expert on cutting mortgage costs – you’ve gotta tell us!
* Have your pics/bio ready to go at all times – It’s so surprising to me the amount of people we deal with (and some of these are very well known personalities) that do not have decent photos of themselves. This is imperative. I try and have at least two or three photo shoots a year, to ensure my press pics are up to date and fresh. Publications want exclusive (or very new) photos of the people they feature, so it pays to have them handy. I was fortunate to be featured on the cover of My Business mag last year, and it’s because we made it easy for the publication and were able to supply images that were ‘cover ready’. What’s cover ready? It’s when your photographer shoots you with enough room around your face (for the words to go around you) and above your head for the magazine masthead (the title of the mag). Being on this side of the media, there’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to feature someone fabulous, but they don’t have suitable shots to supply. Big opportunity missed!
Start a relationship with a good photographer who understands what’s required and can help you out from time to time. And invest in getting hair and make-up done, and take a few different outfits so you can maximise your time and get a few different looks happening. A note on this too – an expensive photographic studio is not always needed. I’ve had a couple of shoots in my home (the cover shot for My Business was taken in front of one of our doors!) and often, outdoors (a yard, the park) can be a great solution too. You can get good light and get some different, interesting shots.
* Understand the publication you’re pitching to. You need to understand the newspaper/mag/website you’re trying to get into. So, with Latte, we’re a publication for women in business, so if a fashion designer sends us a pitch just about the new fabrics they’ve imported from India, it’s not going to fly with us. If they pitch us the entrepreneurial/business journey of the designer (and just throw in the bit about the fabrics) then that’s going to be far more relevant and interesting for our readers.
* Always be efficient, helpful and generous. Just before Christmas, a lovely woman from the Gold Coast called me and asked me to be featured in a book that she was writing on ‘iconic Australian women’. Super flattered by her request, I made it a priority to get her everything she needed straight away and I know she appreciated my efficiency. On that first phone call I asked her if there was anyone else she needed to be connected with for the project and she said: “Do you know I’ve been working on this book for months and you’re the first person to ask me that?” She was blown away that I’d thought about her needs (and not just mine). The exact same situation just came up (as I was halfway through writing this post) with the gorgeous Chris Sheedy from The Hard Word. Chris is a great freelance journo and writer that I’ve dealt with a few times in the past ten years (eek, I’m getting on …) who’s also putting together another book this year. I hope to be able to help him in the same way (if he needs it and if I can.)
* Remember to thank the journo or the publication if you’ve been featured – I had the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics last year and as a result, we put her on the cover and ran a four page feature on her in the Summer edition of Latte. I believe that when it comes to company culture, a fish rots from the head, so if a leader of a business is lovely and genuine, then the majority of that leader’s team will be too. So is the case with all the Bloom team. After sending them the Latte feature over Christmas, I arrived back to work this week to a lovely email from one of Nat’s team thanking me for the opportunity of the coverage. Now these guys are media experts and they get a lot of press but this is exactly why! Because they have good manners, are wonderful to deal with, and make the media’s job easy!
I hope you got something from reading this. I love this topic and could have gone on all day with more tips, but these are a good start to help you increase your profile in 2011 and have a stronger relationship with the different publications you’d like to work with. Good luck!