Contrary to the popular expression, no news isn’t actually good news—a high media profile is an essential marketing tool to promote your company and its products and services. Media outlets gravitate towards business owners as sources for relevant stories their companies and industry trends.
Business owners with interesting, informed and colorful personalities become a continuing source for developing stories. Even if they or their company aren’t the direct focus of the story, the fact that they are appearing somewhat regularly in the media as CEO for the XYZ company is free advertising.
Of course, you didn’t start a business to appear in the news. You need training in how to perform for the media. As MMI Public Relations describes it, media training provides an organization with the ability to clearly and confidently portray itself to the public. Instead of attempting to keep up with a story, media training allows you to craft the story to put forward the best face of your company or brand.
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Stay On Message
As PR consultant Catriona Pollard points out in The Huffington Post, develop talking points for no more than five key points when talking to the media. These short messages consistently emphasize:
- The value of your products or services
- How your company contributes to the community
- The positive aspects of any “bad” publicity relating to your company, products and services or your general industry
- How an issue or product/service affects the average person
Convey Confidence To the Media
The PR firm Edelman points out that 80 percent of most communication is non-verbal and most of the way people obtain information today is through video. It may not be fair or right, but people do form an opinion based on appearances. Your physical appearance needs to convey confidence. This is achieved through:
- Suitable clothes that fit and look professional (needn’t be traditional business suit, but avoid sloppy look; Mark Zuckerberg may get away with his trademark hooded shirts, but he’s the exception)
- Comfortable body language:
- you’re looking at the person (or viewer) directly, you use your hands for emphasis but keep them out of your pockets
- you’re not slouching or leaning
- you nod to acknowledge when another person saying something you agree with
- you don’t grimace or smirk when someone says something you don’t agree with
- you smile
- General good grooming
- Maintain composure while asked difficult or potentially embarrassing questions
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Be Prepared for Media Interviews
While some people are good at impromptu speaking, most aren’t. Even those who are good at talking off-the-cuff are prone to make mistakes. To avoid mistakes:
- Anticipate difficult questions with articulate responses
- Conduct mock interviews to practice and evaluate how you respond to questions
- Keep responses short and to the point
- Control the interview and steer the conversation the way that puts you and your company in the most favorable light
This should go without saying. It’s one thing to spin a topic to promote your brand or your ideas, it’s another to downright lie. You’ll always get caught. If you’re being asked something you don’t want to answer directly, don’t answer it. “Look, I don’t know what all the facts are yet” or “I’m not in a position to answer that question” is a better response than misrepresenting what you do in fact know to be true.
If you are caught in an embarrassing situation, the faster you get out the facts and, equally important, the faster you fix it, the better.
Journalists Will Like You, Really They Will
If you become a reliable and possibly even entertaining source for stories, your media coverage can only increase. That means more opportunities to present your business in a powerful way that attracts the attention of potential customers, partners and benefactors. It’s the classic win/win for both the media and the business.