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Invite the Media to Tell Your Story
People often ask me how I managed to get a major newspaper like The New York Times to write my story. My response is, "Nineteen years of growing a successful business." You have to lay the groundwork before you can expect national media attention. The heavy hitters won't call you until your name is well known in your industry.
It took me 19 years to build the kind of professional presence that would attract the interest of a national media outlet like The New York Times. But you don't have to wait that long to see your name in print. You can start right now enticing local and regional media to tell your story. Unlike advertising and many other forms of marketing, you don't pay for this type of publicity. It comes from the media free of charge, but in turn requires more effort than advertising.
Media relations is also riskier than paid advertising. When you pay for an ad, the publication is committed to running your ad just as you designed it. The same is not true for media relations. There are no guarantees that just because you gave an interview the media will include a story about your company and, more importantly, that the story will say exactly what you want it to say. You have no control over who else they might interview or how they'll slant the story. Don't expect to see, much less approve, a copy of your story before it runs.
However, when a positive article about your business does run in the media, you get a big pay-off. The public perceives a news story as far more credible than any advertisement. A published article or broadcast news item is accepted as a media endorsement of your company. Also, even though the story might not match your expectations exactly, you can still benefit tremendously.
Vanquish 3 Myths
Before beginning a media relations effort, you'll need to overcome the myths about media relations that could prevent you from creating an effective campaign.
Myth #1 – The media will discover me. False. You have to help them along. You must boldly and unabashedly offer the media a relevant, valuable, fascinating story about your business. Many of the stories published or broadcast about companies come directly from the companies themselves. The media needs and appreciates story ideas, but they're not likely to come up with an idea about your company unless you give it to them.
Myth #2 – The media would never be interested in me. Not necessarily. Even a small company can grab the media's interest. You can, too, by carefully developing the story of your business to speak directly to the media outlet's audience. Think about how your unique experience on a specific case can be interesting and helpful to that audience. Look for ways the story of your success can educate or inspire others.
Myth #3 – I could never speak persuasively to the media. Of course you can. Calling on the media is no more difficult than calling on any new client. All it takes is preparation. Make notes before you make contact, practice what you want to say and be ready to catch a reporter's interest in the first 15 seconds.
With preparation and diligence, you will overcome almost all media relations challenges.
About the Author: Inc. Top 10 Entrepreneur, Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD is the founder and president of Vickie Milazzo Institute (http://www.LegalNurse.com), a legal nurse consultant training and certification company. She is the author of Inside Every Woman: Using the 10 Strengths You Didn’t Know You Had to Get the Career and Life You Want Now, 2006.