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Small Business Digest


Mastering The Media: Making the Most of Publicity/Media Exposure Opportunities

There are a few tricks of the trade that can make a person come off like a pro -- which will make the reporter's job easier and most likely translate into a better PR/publicity placement for an individual/company.

Here are a few basic tips to follow:

* When a publicity campaign generates a media response, try to respond as promptly as possible to that initial contact and subsequent requests.

Reporters, editors and producers are on constant deadline. If they don't get what they want from the person directly and quickly -- they WON'T wait -- they WILL move on to another source.

* State facts, not fireworks, keeping superlatives to a minimum.

Proving a product is indeed the "BEST" is next to impossible. So don't. Simply state the specific benefits of the product matter of factly. Let the consumer decide which product is best. As long as it is a quality product, something that should be evident by the time a company has implemented a publicity campaign, the product won't need "BEST EVER" or "NUMBER 1" claims to come out in a positive light.

* Speak in sentences, not phrases.

Articulate answers in the following manner: Subject -- Verb -- Object -- Reason

Ex: "We (subject) are launching (verb) our new product (object) to give consumers a healthy new option in beverages (reason)."

This will help give answers that are straightforward and easily understood. Beginning sentences with phrases tends to make answers seem drawn out, disjointed and most times unresponsive. This is not to say a person should never begin a sentence with a phrase. Granted, some media savvy interviewees can pull it off with articulation. But until a person gets to that level -- stick to the fundamentals.

* "Echo-answer" the main questions.

If a reporter asks: "What's so great about your new product?" try to paraphrase and answer: "The great thing about our product is..." That quote/soundbite is much more likely to be used because that answer can stand on its own without needing a "set-up" sentence in the article/story. A reporter can throw that quote in anywhere and it is a logical, understandable statement about the product.

* Keep quotes and sound bites concise and articulate.

If a "canned response" to a question must be used, speak conversationally, not like a robot. A good rule of thumb for answer lengths: Effective TV/radio news broadcast soundbites should be around 4-10 seconds -- something that can be spoken comfortably in about 3 or 4 normal breaths. Anything longer and it may seem to drone on. That's why they are called sound bites. Regardless, stick to the S-V-O formula and there's no real way to get off track and end up leading to awkward follow-up questions.

* Be a well, not a fountain.

Allow the interviewer to dip in and draw out a response instead of spewing forth a tirade of unsolicited information. (Don't worry - most interviewers will "lead" the subject into discussing the most relevant aspects of the product).  It will seem more genuine and less self-serving if a person answers the interviewer's questions succinctly and professionally. This is especially true in "firefighting" publicity -- when a product/business/company is being interviewed in the wake of a problem.

* Speak to the interviewer, not the medium.

Don't get blinded by the "stage lights." Whether a person is speaking to the editor of a small town weekly newspaper or Oprah, he/she should consider the reporter just a single person in the extensive targeted audience. Treat the interview as a one on one conversation with the reporter to put everyone at ease and create more genuine responses.

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