How We Ended Up In The New York Times – And You Can, Too

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When our team returned to work this week after taking a brief break for Thanksgiving, we learned we had something to celebrate. No post-holiday blahs for us! Instead, it was high fives all around!

The exciting news that greeted us was that Jay York, our senior social media and marketing strategist, had been quoted extensively in a New York Times article headlined “Brands Heed Social Media. They’re Advised Not to Forget Word of Mouth.”

Every day we work to get our clients just this sort of placement, but on occasion, when the moment is right, we practice what we preach and do the same for ourselves.

And, as it turns out, there are lessons for you in how this opportunity came about for Jay and EMSI.

To begin with, the New York Times reporter did not seek out Jay. Instead, she wanted to talk with one of our clients, who happened to have the expertise her article needed.

This particular client had served as a source for the reporter before and she obviously liked working with him, so it didn’t surprise us when she asked to interview him once again. But we encountered one not-so-slight problem. When the client heard about the topic, he felt he didn’t have any creative thoughts to offer the reporter. So he declined the interview.

For one brief terrifying moment, it looked like we would need to tell the New York Times reporter we had nothing for her! Then one of our print campaign managers, Miguel Casellas-Gil, had a marvelous idea! Since the topic related to social media and marketing, he asked Jay if he would feel comfortable answering the reporter’s questions.

“Sure,” Jay said.

Soon he and the reporter were chatting away. Obviously, Jay supplied the kind of information the reporter wanted because she quoted him more than once in the article.

So how can you duplicate this success? Here are at least three factors that contributed to making this happen and would work for you:

  • Be on a source list. If you’re like most people, the media – especially the major media – have no idea who you are. That means a call or email from a reporter requesting an interview is unlikely. You need to find a way to get in front of those journalists, either through direct contact with them or by connecting with a public relations firm that can do the work for you. For example, the media know we have sources available on a variety of subjects, so we routinely field requests from them, matching the right client to the right article.
  • Make yourself available. I’ve said this many times before, but I’m not sure it can ever be said enough. It’s crucial to make yourself available when the media come calling. Journalists often work on tight deadlines. If you say you’re too busy to talk right now, they’ll just move on to the next person on their list. Not long ago, one of our clients – much to our dismay – turned down a chance to speak with a USA Today reporter. Thank goodness another client quickly grabbed the opportunity – and reaped great rewards as a result. More than 80 other newspapers reprinted that USA Today article! Yes, we did some high fiving that day, too!
  • Provide quality content. Even if you get the call and take the time, you could end up on the journalistic version of the cutting-room floor if you don’t have something worthwhile to say. You need to provide the journalist with quality content that’s communicated in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. If you know ahead of time what questions the journalist will ask, jot down the key points you want to make and the phrasing you want to use. It never hurts to think in terms of sound bites, even with print journalists.

You never know when media opportunities are going to knock on your door (or arrive in your email inbox). You just need to be prepared to take advantage of those moments when they happen.

Handle them the right way and you, too, will be celebrating!

High five!


P.S. If you’d like professional help getting coverage in the press, or being interviewed on radio and TV, give us a call. We’ve been providing this service to clients for 27 years. We also offer a comprehensive social media marketing program for select clients, where we do it all for you. If you’re interested in our help, please call us at 727-443-7115 Ext. 208. We’d love to hear from you!


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