Whether you are a profit or non-profit, the media is an important element in shaping your image. So it is in your best interest to be proactive in forging a solid relationship. Here are some tips for developing an effective relationship with the media:
*Return calls from reporters as soon as you can, and give your home phone number or cell so that you can be reached after business hours.
*Do not bluff the answer; find out and call back. Always be truthful.
*Do not go off the record with a reporter unless you know and trust him or her.
*Do not tell a reporter how to write the story.
*Avoid industry-specific jargon or acronyms that only limit what audiences can understand.
*Give documentation or information packets to supplement what the reporter is covering.
*Never cover up. It will be seen as dishonest and will permanently affect future credibility.
*Correct any inaccuracies in a story, but do not object to the tone. That is the writer’s prerogative.
*Do not assume you can review articles. If needed, try to check facts over the phone. Reporters do not have the time to have a reviewer outside of their own offices.
*Give compliments when they are due by writing to a reporter’s supervisor.
*Be aware that any report or survey developed with public tax dollars is public information.
*Help reporters to do their job better. Post your news releases into a “media room” on your website. Include a media archive to help reporters to do their research. Make sure that the reporters get your RSS feeds.
A little “schmoozing” does not hurt either. Why not invite reporters to a continental breakfast when you don’t need to have a story told, and then when you do, they might be more willing to give you an ear.