Develop Effective Media Relations by Steering Clear of These 5 Media Myths

Developing an effective media relations program and establishing your credibility as a reliable news and information resource with reporters and editors requires trust, honesty and understanding on both sides.    

That’s why, when attempting to generate publicity, pitch a story or respond to reporters’ inquiries, you must realize certain beliefs and practices are counter productive and professionally amateurish when it comes to media relations.

Here are five of the most glaring media relations myths and mistakes you should avoid.>
Myth 1: Knowing a reporter personally will get you lots of good press.
Sure it is a good idea to address your news release, email or other communications to a specific reporter. But just because you know a reporter’s name, and perhaps you’ve had lunch together, doesn’t mean that reporter will give you or your story favorable treatment. 
At best, the reporter might consider you a straight shooter and a reliable source of information. She’ll take your call and listen to your pitch. But she isn’t going to write a favorable story about your organization based on an un-newsworthy premise. Don’t expect such a favor as a result of your friendship. And she certainly isn’t going to treat your company differently than any other when tracking down and reporting the facts.
Don’t ask or expect a reporter or editor to put their credibility on the line because you are friends.      
Myth 2: What you say in your news release is actually newsworthy.
Many companies spend a great amount of time and money on special projects and activities. And within each company’s sphere of existence, completing an all-consuming endeavor or reaching some sort of milestone is newsworthy. However, from a reporter’s point of view, neither achievement is particularly newsworthy.
When was the last time you saw a story or photo about a new building’s ground breaking or ribbon cutting ceremony in a major newspaper?
It’s your job as a media relations professional to identify one or more angles that make your story interesting, different and newsworthy.
Also consider other outlets for your story such as trade publications, blogs or direct mail to place your company’s name and the pertinent information directly in front of your most desirable audiences.
Myth 3: What you say to a reporter is exactly what you’ll see or hear when the story comes out.
The only control you have when you speak to or otherwise communicate with a reporter is that you can say exactly what you want to say and nothing more. After that, it is up to the reporter to interpret and present the facts as he sees them.
Yes, your direct quotes — if used in the story — should appear as you made them. But your input could be part of a larger story containing opposing views. Even if you’ve suggested a topic to a reporter, it doesn’t mean your company or the CEO will be highlighted in the article. They might only get a brief mention or no mention at all.
Myth 4: Telling a reporter the information you’ve provided is “off the record” guarantees you won’t see it in print.
First of all, don’t tell a reporter your statement is “off the record” after you’ve made it. Once your words float past your epiglottis, they’re “on the record” if a reporter so chooses.
I believe most reporters will at least consider a heartfelt request if you do say something you hadn’t intended to say before requesting your words be off the record. Maybe. But don’t bet on it, and don’t put the reporter or yourself in this professionally untenable position.

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