Profit by Publicity: How to get Along with the Media
An important part of any effort to generate publicity about yourself or your real estate company is a basic understanding of the media, and how to get along with editors and reporters.
First and foremost, it is important to realize that reporters are looking to satisfy their own needs, not yours. They wear the shoes of their readers, viewers and listeners. While you may have a burning desire to tell them all about your real estate services and expertise, their task is to gather as much information as possible and produce a story that will hold an audience’s attention. They are storytellers. They are looking for great anecdotes and simple explanations.
Boiled down to the essentials, the strategies and tactics that are most likely to result in the stories you want about yourself or your company can be summarized by the following "key truths" about working with the media:
· Reporters are neither your friends nor your enemies. They are professionals just like you, and are trying to do the best job that they can.
· Return a reporter’s phone call or e-mail immediately, if for no other reason that to find out what they want to talk about and their deadline. If you don’t respond quickly to a reporter’s query, they are more likely to interview someone who does.
· Don’t ask reporters to do a story about you. Give them reasons why they should.
· Be brief. The average sound bite is seven seconds long (and shrinking). If you cannot answer a reporter’s question in the time it takes to read this paragraph aloud, your interview won’t be used by television or radio reporters.
· Prioritize the three most important things you would like to see in story about yourself or company, and keep your remarks focused on those points.
· Most reporters hate it when you call them to find out if they received the news release you sent them. But most of them will appreciate it if you let them know ahead of time that you are sending them a story you think they will be interested in covering.
· The easiest way to find out what stories reporters are most interested in covering is to ask them and read, watch or listen to the stories they have already done.
· There is no such thing as being too prepared for a media interview.
· Assume that everything you tell a reporter is on the record and may be used in their story.
· If you don’t know the answer to a reporter’s question, say so. Then tell him or her you will find out the answer and call them back as soon as possible.
· Ask reporters what you can do to help make their job easier.
· Never call a reporter when he or she is on deadline.
· Never be a pain to a reporter. But always be a resource of information.
· The day a reporter sends you a copy of his story for your review is the day you will win the state lottery.
· Media interviews can be similar to auditions. Once a reporter knows you are reliable and dependable, he or she is likely to call again.
When a reporter does agree to interview you for a story, he or she will usually assume that you will answer questions they ask. If there are issues that you do not want to discuss or queries that you’d rather avoid, it’s best that you have a clear understanding with the reporter beforehand about the topics he wants to discuss.
Otherwise, you may be better off not doing the interview in the first place. Of course, in your efforts to protect yourself, you also run the risk of offending the reporter, who may decide to simply not do the interview.
An Important Lesson
When giving radio or television interviews, always assume that the microphone is on and that every word you say may be recorded or broadcast.
Every so often a reporter is caught making a similar gaffe. While attending an event at which President George W. Bush was delivering a speech, CNN reporter Kyra Phillips forgot to turn off her microphone while talking in a bathroom. Her comments were carried live over the network while the President gave his speech.
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 StartUpJournal.com, 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 www.ProfitbyPublicity.com
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