The news media can make a president. It can also make a president
resign. It can mean success or failure for you, your product, event,
or business venture. Yet many people simply arent prepared
to deal with the media.
Some of the most successful people shake like a leaf when confronted
with a television interview. The biggest fear is being misquoted.
I know from my years of reporting (in a previous life) that the
great majority of reporters are fair. But we must keep in mind that
a reporters job isnt to please us. It is to get information
that the reporter feels the public should know. Their job is to
get both sides and get it right.
Just as in most other professions though, there is a small percentage
that doesnt care and "wont let the facts get in
the way of a good story." Its that small percentage that
makes people fear even the good reporters. That fear results in
a defensive attitude during an interview and that gives you a negative
image on the screen.
Your fear can tempt you to simply say "no comment," which
will also make you look bad. "No comment" invites confrontation
and makes you look like you are hiding something.
When there is a confrontation between you and the camera, the camera
always wins. The chances of a confrontation with a reporter increase
when a reporter hasn't heard from you by mid-afternoon.
There are several ways to avoid confrontations. Among them:
· Respect the reporters deadline.
· Show concern for what a reporter is asking you.
· If you cant grant an interview, explain why.
Over the past fifteen years, I have seen relations between the
news media and many businesses get better. In my seminars, I have
seen a real desire by participants to improve media relations.
Businesses can improve media relations by helping to educate a
reporter before the interview takes place. You have years of experience
in your profession, while a reporter has just started to find out
about you or your business.
Another way a business can help itself is by showing its human
side. There are a number of ways to do that effectively. After all,
you are an organization of human beings. Making the media aware
of that can only help you get your point across, while it helps
reporters do their jobs.
If both you and the reporter benefit, the chances are you will
do business with that reporter again, good business.
Originally Published in " The
Jacksonville Business Journal"
Courtesy of Al Rothstein Media Services, Inc., specialists in spokesperson
training and media relations seminars.