Dancing With The Media Stars

by Shonali Burke on August 5, 2010

1-2-3, 1-2-3

Building a relationship with the media is a dance, and just like a good dance partner you can’t step on their toes.

Image: southie3′s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

If you want to Salsa and the media wants to Waltz, you’re going to have some problems (and look ridiculous).

That’s why research is so important. It’s not that hard to figure out what will interest the media outlet; it usually just takes a visit to their website.

And once you know what they want — and more importantly what they don’t — you can say to yourself, either, “No, pitching them will be a waste of both their time and mine,” or “I think I have something that will really pique their interest — I need to get started on my pitch.”

Don’t stretch it though; if it’s not a fit, it’s not fit.

So when you email or phone the media, treat them like you would if you were asking someone to dance.

(No matter what you think though, you’re not Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing and the media’s not Baby. It’s the reverse!  Remember, Baby volunteered to be of service. Play your cards right, and they’ll be showing you the time of your life.)

So be respectful and ask whether or not it’s a good time for them to talk, if it’s a good time to pitch them; and if it’s not, let them know when you’re available to continue the conversation.

But before you even pick up the phone make sure you’re clear on what you have to offer and how it’s relevant to this specific outlet’s needs.

Remember: when you can add new, fresh and creative perspectives, angles and ideas to a news story you’ll dramatically increase your chances of grabbing the media’s attention, ensuring a callback and most likely a media placement.

Building relationships with the media to grow your business is all about being of service without being a nuisance.

You have to give the media what they want and we’ve learned time and time again: if you make the media’s job easier, they’ll pay attention to you.

Once you make your pitch, don’t badger the media about whether they received a particular news item you sent them. It’s OK to make one phone call or email to remind them and offer further assistance, but the last thing overworked reporters want to do is to spend time talking with publicity seekers to follow up on where their request stands.

If you’re a pest, the media might just put Baby in a corner.

More from Women Grow Business:

Twenty-year PR Veteran and Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Michelle Tennant Nicholson has seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and all major media. Recently she secured a Dr. Phil placement for a client within eight hours of signing the contract. Contact her at PR blog http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com where she teaches tips from the trade.

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