What To Say When The Media Calls
by: Kevin Nunley
Nothing makes sales take off like media saying good things about you. Thousands, even millions, of people hear a media source they know and trust explain why your business is good.
You never know when media are going to call. The customer who just left delighted with your product may happen to live next door to a newspaper reporter looking for a story. When some people feel gratitude, they automatically think of sending a note or making a quick call to their favorite columnist or broadcast personality. These tips often result in stories.
When a reporter calls, take the opportunity to present your story in the best possible light. Speak slowly and clearly when you say something you would love to find in print. This signals to the reporter you are saying something important. It gives her a chance to write down your words.
Illustrate your most important points with stories. Tell about customers who came to you with common problems and how you helped them. Offer to provide the names and contact info for some of these customers. Very few people mind if media call to ask their story or opinion.
Give the reporter several ways he can contact you later if he needs more information. Not being available at the moment the reporter needs you can result in an incomplete story or no story at all.
If the reporter asks a question you can’t answer, offer to get the answer. Call back within the hour if possible. Once a reporter gets a story underway, they like to finish it as quickly as possible.
What happens when the media voice on the other end of the phone wants to know about something bad? Embarrassing or controversial news can put your business on the defensive.
That angry email you got from someone who thinks your service is a scam might have forwarded their note to the investigative reporter at a TV station.
One radio station I managed seemed to invite reporters prowling for scandal. A TV crew surprised me in the lobby wanting to know about two contest winners who had not received their prizes. We were already aware of one of the cases and had already moved to correct the error. Unfortunately we had never heard of the second person claiming to have won.
Despite the explanation we offered, the TV reporter slanted the story to make the radio station look like it had something to hide. He felt like a scandal angle would help ratings and he wasn’t about to give it up.
This illustrates an important point: once media starts work on a story, you have no control on how it turns out.
In most cases, the best way to handle media calling with bad news is to tell the truth. Be forthcoming and show how you are working to correct the problem in the future.
Attorneys may advise a different approach. When legal liability is involved, most lawyers say tell the media thanks, but you can’t discuss the issue at this time.
Reporters often slant a story as either a wonderful new development or a sad situation. If your business is portrayed in less than glowing terms, take heart. A large part of the media audience doesn’t believe everything they are told. Invariably you will get new customers who try your business simply because media told them not to.
About The Author
Kevin Nunley specializes in helping people get their product, service, or idea into the news. See his affordable press release packages at http://DrNunley.com Reach Kevin at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-249-9519.
This article was posted on September 07, 2005