– By Phoebe Yong
I was in New York last week for a mini press tour with a client who was announcing investment in a waste water company. They were also partaking in introductory interviews with Tier 1 outlets. While both preparing for and witnessing the interviews, what struck me was how basic PR 101 rules apply. I’m now reminded of how often we forget about them. Here are some reminders that may help in your preparation for interacting with media:
It’s often assumed that on our side, we’ve prepped the client with a detailed media brief including reporter information, recent stories, and potential questions. I was struck by how prepared (good) reporters are as well. The conversation is so much more meaningful when reporters know their beat, researched the interviewee and the company, and challenge our standard sound bites. This means that there needs to be preparation on all ends, including the client.
Another given, right? I am surprised by how many spokespeople do not have compelling, relevant bios for the media. Sure, they may have adequate bios for their annual report, website, award submissions but what about for media pitches? After almost every big pitch we make to Tier 1 media, the reporter asks, “Can you send me a bio and photo?” These bios need to reflect leadership, experience, previous media hits (Tier 1’s preferably) and education. As for the photo, I think it’s safe to assume that you need a good, professional photo, not one that looks like a mug shot.
Answer the Question
And when you do, make sure it’s relevant.
Everyone is busy and on a time constraint. Reporters generally want to hear something they didn’t know before that their readers would find new and relevant. Answer the question directly and if really necessary, tell them a story that may give the answer some context. So often, people think they are being clever and wise with anecdotes, stories, but key question to ask is, “Would everyone think this story is as amusing as it is to me?” Not likely.
Reflection of the trip to NYC:
Aside from lessons learned about media interviews, I love NYC for everything that it has to offer. It’s a city that tests our senses to the max. When I walked at the New York pace, I could feel my feet shake and hear the grumbling on the ground from the trains. I will never forget the notorious food carts with foot long hot dogs, fresh juices / shakes, Mediterranean feasts; the smorgasbord goes on.
Going to a Yankees game was amazing and reminded me of its history. I heckled with the crowd and cheered immensely when Alex Rodriguez hit a homer in the 8th to bring to 1 point (but Yanks lost 6-4 to Rays).
Another highlight was attending the Anderson Cooper show on September 13 where I was selected for his tweet seat section. I need not say more about one of my ‘news’ heroes. Remaining are both Charlie Rose and Bob Costas that round off my ‘must meet’ list.