Serving the Media’s Agenda

You don’t sit at your desk all day, waiting for a phone call from journalists. Similarly, reporters don’t sit at their desks waiting for news about your company. In fact, given today’s smaller news staffs, in part because of reduced advertising revenues as a result of the recession, and their increasingly busy workdays, there’s a very good chance reporters may not even see your news release.

While distribution of a release via a news release dissemination service will ensure that it reaches key news outlets, news databases and online news portals. But these services are simply the electronic equivalent of dropping a document on the receptionist’s desk, it does not guarantee that the journalists who actually report for the media important to your company will ever see your news release, much less appreciate its importance.

A reporter for a local newspaper may receive up to 100 releases a day, and countless additional emails. Journalists on major national publications are besieged by several times this number. You may think your news release is very important, but to a journalist it will be just one item in a stack, unless you differentiate it. How do you make it stand out?

  • If you or your company’s public relations agency issues a news release, make certain the appropriate reporters know about it. Call them. If you don’t plan to tell them about it personally, don’t waste your time or money on the release. Of course, this assumes your internal public relations staff or external agency has first done its homework and identified a target group of reporters.
  • Make sure a professional will be available to service the news release, promptly returning phone calls from the media and answering their questions.
  • Know and respect the media’s deadlines. Responding to a reporter’s call when he or she is on deadline, or past it, makes your company look amateurish or uncooperative. You will lose the opportunity for favorable coverage on the story at hand, and for future stories; reporters have long memories.
  • Finally, don’t call the editor or the newspaper your targeting. First, he or she, in all likelihood, isn’t going to write the story; second, and far more importantly, few tactics are more offensive to a reporter than a PR pro calling his editor to pitch a story. On the other side of that coin, if your staff or agency doesn’t know any better, you are going to have some very significant media relations challenges, if you don’t already have them.

None of this is brain surgery, and it would seem that any public relations professional would assiduously adhere to these four simple protocols. Unfortunately, we hear complaints far too often from reporters that an important news release was never called to their attention by the company that issued it, or, if they did see it, that they had questions, left a voicemail and either never heard back or got a response after their deadline.

You’ve built your company by responding effectively to the needs and wants of your customers. The same goes for winning favorable treatment from the news media that are important to you. The fundamental lesson of effective PR is:

To get the ink you deserve, you have to serve the media’s agenda.

If your internal public relations team or your agency isn’t following the simple steps that will provide the best possible opportunity for positive media relations, it’s time for a change.

About Stern And Company 

Stern And Company, based in Las Vegas, develops and implements strategic corporate communications, financial relations and marketing programs for public and private companies.

All of our professionals have extensive senior-level experience as financial journalists with major publications or as communications executives at leading major corporations. Our firm’s practice areas include corporate and financial relations, public relations, strategic and product marketing, crisis communications, transaction communications, restructurings, bankruptcies and litigation support.

Contact: info @