The press are an evil bunch:- they phone you when you are busy, ask you lots of difficult questions, try to trip you up or squeeze something juicy out of you, wasting lots of your time, and the buggers rarely give you a citation or a link for your efforts.
But just like Barry Schwartz wrote a few days ago, I feel that the 10% of the time they mention your name, or heaven forbid give a link through to the article they were quoting from (creating duplicate content), is something worthwhile that most people would stop climbing up a burning rope ladder to obtain.
Here are just a few tips that might help nudge the link & citation ratio up to as much as 50%
- Text – have materials available you can quickly send them by email to clarify specific points of conversation
- Exclusive Pictures – have some exclusive material pre-prepared, whether it be screenshots or photographs at slightly different angles (individually numbered so you know what has been used)
- Links – collate reference links on your own websites, and other press coverage
- Market Awareness – know what is happening in your industry more than reporters or your competitors
Control the Conversation
If you have done the preparation, discussion about the subject should be relatively easy, but you also have to ensure you try to gain a win/win situation.
- Ask for what you want
- Be suggestive about your goal
- Make it easy for them to provide what you want
That list is a bit simplistic, but also ambiguous, so here are some more detailed ideas
Some members of the press prefer not to use citations for legal reasons, or may just simply overlook such a common courtesy.
- Tell them it is OK to cite you
- Ask them if they want to quote you
- Suggest a juicy citation
Many press websites have restrictions on deep linking, mainly as leverage with partners and competitors, sometimes for legal reasons, or just lack of understanding of how the internet really works.
- Tell them it is OK to link to you
- Ask them if they would like some supporting materials to link to
- Suggest that a link might…
Being well connected is sometimes extremely useful
I have done a lot of what might be looked on as “joint venture” marketing, but at the end of the day it really resulted in being able to demonstrate your hot product for free on the stand of a Fortune 500 company at major exhibitions such as Cebit, Comdex, Game Developer Conference, E3 and ECTS.
In one situation I was talking to the rep of one Fortune 500, and asked whether their other Fortune 500 partner had arranged any special press coverage for an event where I was just expecting to have one of my guys sit at a computer and demo our products. We already had a large booth at the same show (I will save that for another day), so I wasn’t going to be present on their booth much to talk to press.
The rep said he would check into it, and the next day I received a call from the press, did a short interview, and gained a large shared 1 page segment in the show edition of the primary press sponsor. The coverage was actually more valuable than if we had taken a paid double page centre spread, which would have cost more than our total booth outlay (I did some great deals on the booth).
I didn’t get just name and company association, I effectively gained endorsements from both Fortune 500 companies, and our booth ended up being mobbed.
How mobbed? Well our booth had 16 demo computers and 2 rooms, one was intended for me to hold meetings, and the other was for storage. My CEO ended up holding meetings in the storage room that was rapidly cleared out and furnished with 2 chairs and a table, and missed all the development lectures he had planned to attend.
My wife and the CEOs girlfriend, who were meant to spend a few days shopping in London ended up on booth duty full time.
Confidence, Training & Professional Integrity
If you are confident in your dealings with the press, you can often negotiate better coverage (whilst retaining journalistic integrity).
Training is often effectively setting ground rules and expectations. If members of the press know they can get a juicy citation out of you, and you make their job easier as a source of in depth knowledge, they are more likely to follow through with a win/win situation, such that you no longer have to worry about whether you will get a citation or a link, and you can focus more on the content they will present.
The more you work it, the more success you will achieve. You deserve to get more than just crumbs, and defining what you want to achieve within a win/win relationship is highly important, and may even enhance your ethical working relationship with the press.