Ready or not, here they come. As your business reaches certain levels of success, leveraging the media will inevitably become a key element of your continued success. Whether it’s proactively getting media coverage or dealing with damage control during a crisis, embracing the media and establishing relationships is an important step in your greater strategic plan.
Between constantly moving Twitter feeds and the 24-hour news cycle, the news moves quickly and things can become viral quick. When businesses find that they need an ally in the media, it’s likely an urgent need. The biggest mistake CEOs and business owners make is failing to establish those relationships long before they are actually needed.
Here are some important steps to get you started.
Identify Key Players
Especially for small and medium-sized businesses, you may not have a public relations team on staff to prepare your communications strategy. However, a little bit of research can go a long way. Look at your local news outlets and see who is covering stories in your industry. You can’t build relationships if you don’t know whom you are trying to connect with.
Diversify Your Relationships
Many businesses will have one or two spokespeople that will connect with the media – the CEO and/or a public relations person. By diversifying the media relationships beyond those individuals, you are offering more expertise to the reporter. Think about who would likely provide essential information from your company in the event of an emergency, and then help them nurture relationships, too.
Be a Resource
Developing a relationship with the media is just like developing any professional relationship. If one player is continually taking without giving, the relationship will never take off. Regardless of whether you have interest in the story or not, be a resource for your media contacts. Be consistent and let them depend on your expertise.
Own Your Bad News
First and foremost, understand that everything you say to a reporter has the possibility of traveling quickly – regardless of your relationship. That said, bad news happens in business and reporters understand that. By owning your bad news and delivering it to your trusted media partners, you have more control over how the story will unfold. Provide them with access to other members of your organization (those who you encouraged to build media relationships before the crisis hit – see above), and also suggest resources outside of your organization.
Understand Upward Movement
The media world is just like the business world, in that the recent college graduate who currently runs the media outlet’s often-forgotten blog could be covering your industry faster than you may think. Additionally, small-town reporters are the first on the ground for national news when a crisis hits. Don’t underestimate the value of those relationships.
Now is the time to begin building relationships with the media outlets that cover your industry. With countless ways to communicate with reporters, you have a wealth of ways to start the conversation and offer your expertise to help them with their next story.
It all starts with a conversation. Learn what FocalPoint Business Coaching of New Jersey can do for you during a free 30-minute consultation.