How to Become a Valuable Source for the Media

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I often remind clients how important it is to respond quickly and professionally to media requests.

Journalists work on tight deadlines. They don’t have time for sources who lollygag. If you act with haste and meet their needs you can become a buddy for life (at least, on a professional basis). React slowly or not at all and you miss this chance and, potentially, future chances.

I practice what I preach about getting media for my own company to support our brand and I’m fortunate enough to have a great team of media professionals who enjoy being interviewed. So, it’s a thrill whenever I see my staff put into practice the advice we give clients.

That happened this week when a business writer with The Christian Science Monitor reached out to Ginny Grimsley, our print campaign manager. I want to share the story of how it all unfolded because there are lessons here for anyone seeking media exposure.

The writer wanted to talk to Jay York, one of our social media strategists, about Bruce Jenner, who is now Caitlyn Jenner and whose gender change was just featured in a Vanity Fair article.

Jenner received an outpouring of support online from individuals and media outlets, but corporations mostly remained silent. The reporter wondered why and hoped Jay might shed some light from the social media/public relations perspective.
Here’s the interesting thing and another good reminder for anyone seeking the media limelight. The journalist sought Jay’s input not because of anything we did this week, but because of a seed planted months ago.

In February, Ginny pitched Jay as a social media source for an article on another topic. Nothing materialized. But the reporter obviously filed Jay’s name away, figuring the day would arrive when his expertise would come in handy.
The day did arrive. Ginny surmises the Jenner article idea popped up in a morning meeting because the journalist reached out to her at 10:45 a.m.

Could Jay talk – and soon? He could and he would. The result was a great article for the journalist and a great mention of EMSI in a major publication.

I couldn’t have been happier, not only because of what it meant for our business, but because it was such a wonderful illustration of the message we send clients. So I asked Ginny and Jay to share some of the lessons their experience provides:

  • Get prepared. Jay was not idle between the time he learned of the interview and the time he talked to the journalist. He reviewed the information she provided Ginny about the topic. He did some online research as well. Then he wrote down a few points he wanted to make. Jay says, “That way you’re not left trying to remember something you had thought of earlier. You can read it just the way you want to say it.”
  • Be cognizant of deadlines. The Christian Science Monitor reporter contacted Ginny at 10:45 a.m. and said she needed to interview Jay no later than 1 p.m. the same day. That kind of fast turnaround is not unusual, especially with top-tier media working on a timely article. Jay suggested he could do the interview at 12:45 p.m., which would give him time to prepare, but still be 15 minutes earlier than the reporter needed. “There was a sense of urgency, so I made myself available earlier than necessary,” he says.
  • Go with the flow.Jay knew ahead of time three questions he could expect from the journalist. But the reporter didn’t stick to some prepared script. Once they started talking, she had new questions that were raised by Jay’s answers. Those three original questions turned into a 40-minute conversation.
  • Make a connection.“After the interview, Jay and I followed The Christian Science Monitor reporter on Twitter and she is now following us back,” Ginny said. “It’s a way to stay in contact.” That connection also lets you keep tabs on articles the journalist is working on, so you can announce your availability if your area of expertise comes up again.

By the end of the day, the journalist sent the article from to Jay and Ginny once it was live on The Christian Science Monitor. It was a great moment for our entire team. “It was an awesome experience,” Jay says. “You’ve got to appreciate being in a newspaper that reaches 4.3 million people a month.”

None of this would have happened if Ginny hadn’t reached out months ago offering Jay as an expert social media strategist. This is why it’s so important for you to be in front of the media constantly. You want to be at the top of their list when they need an expert source.

Awesome indeed!

P.S. If you want professional help getting the attention of the media, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 211 or simply start by getting your Free Media Analysis here!

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