The secret sauce for local media coverage.
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Topeka Chapter hosted “Press The Press” Thursday, May 2 at The Brownstone. The informational event was part of their monthly professional resource meeting, an opportunity for members and prospective to connect while learning from others, helping all stay current with trends.
“Press The Press” featured seven professionals from varied media in a panel formatted Q + A (narrated by Tom Hagen).
With the rapidly changing media climate, the ever-pressure from bosses and self to increase traffic, attendance and awareness of your business / cause / event, how do you truly connect with local media to get your message out to the public?
This question was presented to the panel who collectively created the “secret sauce” recipe for today’s public relation / media professional. Luckily for you, there was no patent on the sauce, so I’ll share some key ingredients.
PICK SEVEN OF YOUR FAVORITE (LOCAL) INGREDIENTS
“Press The Press” featured: [left to right]
- Danielle Norwood, host “The Danielle Norwood Show” on WIBW Radio
- Shawn Wheat, investigative reporter, 13 News – WIBW-TV
- (yours truly) Kerrice Mapes, this publication
- Sherman Smith, managing editor, The Topeka Capital-Journal
- Jim McClean, executive editor, KHI News Service + Kansas Public Radio, Kansas New Service
- Tara Dimick, owner, TK Business Magazine
- Brittany Moore, morning anchor, KSNT-TV
WHISK THEM TOGETHER (ON A STAGE WITH A MIC)
Let the flavors coagulate. The result was a few best approaches when working with today’s local media. These included:
RELATIONSHIPS – everyone on the panel stressed the importance of relationships. “People do business with those they know, like and trust” same could be said about media
LET US KNOW – Shawn and Danielle expressed the importance of telling the news outlets about your event at least (at least) two weeks in advanced. More if you can. The Danielle Norwood show is currently booked six weeks, so if you hope to snag a fabulous 22 minute interview you better get on it.
YOU CAN NOT PURCHASE OR EDIT THE STORY – a misnomer that you have to “pay to play” all media professionals said journalistic integrity took precedents over big boss, accounting and big advertising accounts. Transparency; yes, if a professional is needed for a story, for example about air conditioning, the media outlet will most likely go to their air conditioning professional who happens to also advertise with them. Not because of ad budget spending but because that is whom they know and have a relationship with.
PRESS RELEASES ARE DEAD-ISH – Brittany from KSNT-TV mentioned receiving almost 200 emails a day, in addition to phone calls and beat assignments from news director. The traditional, long press release is a thing of the past. Today, she is more receptive to a concise, timely press release with bulleted information and then she will follow up for more as needed. One addition to the press release that many agreed upon, however, was the inclusion of images.
HOW TO BOMB AN INTERVIEW – Sure fire ways to bombing any sort of interview included not knowing information, from website address to phone number. Saying “um” and the deadly “no comment.” If you’re approached by the media and asked to speak on a topic, it was advised that A. you know what you’re talking about, B. if you don’t or are not the authority, point the media in the correction direction, and C. ask for 10 minutes to compose yourself and then get down to the interview.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – Lastly, the diverse basket of fruit representing today’s local, diverse media ranges in styles from hard-hitting, investigative to niche, opt-end stories. It was agreed and advised that as a promoter you must know your audience; not just the audience you want to hear your message, but the audience you are pitching the story idea to. Do your research and pitch something that fits and intrigues an editorial staff. When you do, it’s a recipe for success.
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Topeka Chapter was established in the mid-1980s and remains a reliable source of professional development for communicators. Members include professionals who work in government, corporate and nonprofit as well as independent contractors.
The Chapter meets the first Wednesday of each month for a professional development program. Next month (June 5) is “The Man Behind The Brand: The Pennant and Iron Rail Brewing”
Thad Halstead, marketing director, AIM Strategies, LLC
Hear how Thad and his team came up with the branding and marketing strategy for Iron Rail Brewing and The Pennant. He’ll discuss why they decided to keep the historical Topeka theme for the restaurants, how they incorporated local artists and resources, and why they believe the strategy has effectively influenced people to return to downtown.