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2010-02-10 19:50:06

Profit by Publicity: How to Be a Resource to Reporters


There are two reasons why reporters talk to real estate agents: the journalists are responding to a news release or story idea you sent, or you have information, insights or perspectives they need for an article or broadcast report.
If you sent reporter a news release, they’d know how to contact you (assuming, of course, that you included your phone number or e-mail address). But what if a journalist is working on a real estate-related topic on which you have some valuable knowledge or expertise, but he or she doesn’t know you exist or how to reach you for an interview?
The solution is to become a resource of information to as many editors, reporters and columnists as possible so that they will know ahead of time who you are, your areas of real estate expertise, your qualifications and how to contact you.
Here are some of the best ways to become a resource to the media:
  • Find out which journalists cover the topics in which you have knowledge or expertise, then target those you think would be interested in interviewing you at some point.
  • Don’t be shy. If necessary, call the news organization and ask the operator or assignment desk which reporters covers the topics you can talk about. Or ask the editors to forward your information to the reporters who cover those subjects.
  • Many news outlets post on their Web sites (or in their printed editions) a list of reporters and the topics they cover, along with e-mail addresses and other contact information.
  • Send reporters a letter, memo, or e-mail describing your background, areas of expertise and a list of the topics you are available to talk about.
  • Give good quotes. Reporters are often inclined to interview people who they know can give good quotes. (See last week’s column, “The Art of the Sound Bite”.) When reporters see that you’ve been quoted by one news organization, for example, they may seek to contact you for interviews for their own stories. Consider your quotes to be as much a marketing opportunity to promote yourself to the media as they are a way to promote yourself or company to the public.
  • Be available and dependable. The challenge in positioning yourself as a resource is that you must be reachable when journalists need to talk to you. You only have one chance to make a good impression with the press. That means the first time you ignore their call or e-mail could also be the last ttime they try to contact you.

Although all real estate is local, news about real estate can have a national or even international impact. Before promoting yourself as a resource to the media, think through what you have to say to whom, and who will be interested in your real estate-related opinions.
If you are interested in casting as wide a net as possible, Web sites or services such as these can help:
When the Media Makes a Mistake
Reporters produce anywhere from a handful to hundreds of stories every year, so it is inevitable that they occasionally get something wrong in their stories. But even if journalists make mistakes less than one percent of the time, think of all the stories that are wrong in some way.
What can you do when the media makes a mistake?
Everything you can, as soon as you can do it.
While it’s impossible to unring a bell, it is possible - and important - that you take steps to have an error in a story corrected as soon as possible. When the media makes a mistake, you should:
  • Call the reporter who did the story and explain the error.
  • If you can’t reach the reporter right away, ask to speak to an editor about the matter.
  • Ask that a correction be printed, posted or broadcast as soon as possible.
  • Monitor the news organization to ensure they make the correction.
 PR Week, an industry publication, recommends against shooting from the hip or lip when a mistake occurs. Instead, plan a strategy, and resist the urge to act on impulse. If you think the matter may lead to a legal action against the news organization, don't contact the reporter until you’ve had a chance to speak to an attorney.
When called to their attention, newspapers will usually print a correction the next day or make note of it on their Web site, and magazines may run a clarification in their next issue.
You have to act fast, however, if the mistake is broadcast on television or radio. If you call the station immediately, sometimes they will announce the correction during the same newscast, or on the next broadcast.
The sooner you catch and correct an error on a story that is on the Internet, the better. A wrong fact, figure or garbled quote can live forever in cyberspace. And don’t forget that mistakes can often travel faster and farther than the truth.
Edward Segal, RCE, is the author of the Profit by Publicity series of live and online classes, audiobook and how-to-reference guide for real estate agents and brokers.  Segal was the marketing strategies columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s, a PR consultant to more than 500 clients and press secretary to members of Congress.   He is now CEO of the Marin County Association of REALTORS® in San Rafael, Calif.  Visit his Web site at


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