Dos and Don'ts for Working with the Media

Have something to say about a piece of legislation?

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Karen Moore

Founder and CEO

While a face-to-face meeting with individual lawmakers is the most direct way to get your voice heard, working with members of the media to reach those lawmakers is just as important. Successfully focus media attention on your issue and reach a much larger audience in order to garner attention and support from like-minded individuals!

Working with the media is easier than you might think. Here are a few helpful tips for successfully collaborating with members of the media:

Do...

  • Identify the relevant media outlets you can contact with news or expertise on a certain issue. In addition to TV, radio, print newspapers and magazines, don’t overlook online organizations like e-newsletters and magazines, popular blogs or podcasts that may regularly cover the issue.
  • Cultivate relationships with members of the media year-round. If you want journalists to work with you when the legislative session begins, start nurturing reporter-resource relationships well in advance and maintain them when the session ends.
  • Know the beats and roles of each reporter. Not only does this help ensure your information reaches those who can actually use it, but it also gives you the opportunity to follow and become familiar with each reporter’s work. Journalists who feel understood are more likely to keep in touch.
  • Position yourself as a valuable resource by sharing helpful information. Reporters are always on the lookout for well-researched and properly sourced white papers, case studies or infographics to shape their stories.
  • Make your information and expertise available to the media even when it doesn’t deal with your issue. Journalists value sources that make their jobs easier, and they will reciprocate when it’s time to highlight your issue.
  • Be flexible. Journalists are almost always on deadline. They may need to schedule a last-minute interview or fact-checking call, so people who accommodate reporters’ busy schedules will fast become go-to resources.
  • Offer to provide an interview or quote from you, C-level officers, subject matter experts or other company resources. The media are always looking for different points of view, so getting a quote from your CEO or CMO can be just what a journalist needs to round out a story.
  • Develop a list of questions the media may have about your issue. It’s wise to be prepared, so write out some responses and talking points you or other company representatives can use to prepare for interviews and ensure the right points are featured.

Don't...

  • Underestimate the value you may hold for the media. Reporters are always searching for facts, data and new perspectives about the issues being discussed, especially if they come from fresh new voices. Help them clarify an important matter… they’ll appreciate it.
  • Lie to a reporter about anything. Either the reporter will discover your lie (its part of their job), or worse, a competing media outlet will. This is a fast way to destroy reputations.
  • Pester a reporter with repeated calls, emails, texts or voice messages. Nobody likes to be annoyed. State your take on an issue clearly and accurately, and leave the follow-up to the reporters. They’ll contact you if they need more information.
  • Forget that cultivating relationships with journalists is one of the best things you can do. Like any meaningful effort, fostering a great rapport with the media takes time and work, but the benefits of free PR coverage can be extraordinarily powerful for you and your brand.
  • Disrespect journalists. If you disagree with a certain journalist’s opinions or approach, keep it to yourself. Remember, the goal is to develop a mutual respect so you can work together throughout the legislative session and long thereafter.

A healthy relationship with the media can be beneficial in bringing attention to your issue as well as your brand. Anytime the media mentions you or cites your information, your credibility as an expert on that particular topic skyrockets in the eyes of the public and your brand is reinforced with greater authority.

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