Profit by Publicity: Turning Lemons into Lemonade
The challenges you face in convincing the media to do stories about you or your real estate company is matched only by the problems editors and reporters face in gathering and reporting the news.
In order to present their “products” to the public - whether it’s a daily newspaper, nightly TV news program, hourly radio news segment, or constantly updated Web site - editors, producers and their staff must contend with a never-ending series of hurdles. According to reporters I’ve worked with (and based on my own experiences as a journalist), these problems include:
· Making decisions on which developing news stories, events or activities to cover.
· Weeding out the truly newsworthy press releases or story pitches from the hundreds of apparently superfluous, irrelevant or poorly presented ones that flood mail, e-mail and voice mail inboxes every week.
· Competing against online content providers to help attract and keep audiences.
· Ensuring that the stories they cover and people they interview are a true reflection of their community or meet the needs and priorities of their target audiences.
· Fact checking stories to ensure that there are no errors
· Looking for the best available experts to interview, help explain or provide perspective to technical or complex stories.
· Taking or locating the best pictures, graphs, charts or other illustrations to help explain and show their stories.
· Maintaining staff morale in the face of budget cutbacks, mergers and acquisitions among news organizations and the creeping influence of some advertising departments on the news judgments of editorial personnel.
· Finding and keeping good reporters and support staff.
· Providing enough time and resources so reporters can adequately research a story and be properly prepared to interview people for it.
· Ensuring that the work of their reporters, editors and producers meets the criteria of good journalism.
How do you turn the media’s lemons into your lemonade to ensure that, despite their problems and difficulties, you’re able to convince news organizations to do the stories you want about you or your company? By going the extra mile to help make their jobs - and their decision to do stories about you or your real estate company - as easy as possible.
1. Help them with their homework. Provide them with as much background information as you think is appropriate about your story, including news releases, fact sheets or other stories that have been written about you or the topic. But be careful. Don’t send a flood of information that will be hard for them to read, understand, or use.
2. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Give editors and reporters as much advance notice as possible about the events or activities you’d like them to cover.
3. Show them the story. Find the best possible visuals that will help show your story as well as tell it, and be sure to tell the news organizations about them when you first contact them.
4. Share your ideas. Contact editors and reporters with story ideas that you think they may be interested in, even though those ideas may not result in news coverage about you. By demonstrating that you are a resource of information and ideas, you can make them more receptive to your suggestions later that they do a story about you or your company.
5. Provide good sound bites. Once you have the media’s attention, take full advantage of the opportunity by giving them the quotes they need to help tell their story to their audiences. The better your quotes, the more likely it is that they’ll be used…and that the reporters will come back to you in the future for more interviews.
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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