What would you think of someone who invited you to a party, and then wasn’t home when you arrived?
That’s exactly how reporters and editors feel when you invite coverage and then fail to respond to inquiries in a timely fashion. Journalists, like party guests, don’t take kindly to what amounts to rudeness. Be a no-show for your own news story, and you can expect the media to ignore your message in the future.
Here are some common-sense reminders on how to be a go-to news source.
1. Be interesting. Do not expect journalists to cover the mundane. If you’re not sure whether the story is newsworthy, it probably isn’t.
2. Be accessible. If you ask the media to cover your story, you’d better clear the decks and be ready to respond to inquiries. Journalists have deadlines, respecting their schedule will go a long way toward putting you on their “must call” list for future stories related to your expertise.
3. Be prepared. Have some gee-whiz facts and great sound bites ready to deliver during interviews. The news release is not the be-all and end-all of messaging. It’s designed to deliver the basic information and stimulate follow-up from reporters.
4. Be accurate. You are not required to tell everything you know, but whatever you do share had better be accurate. If you earn a reputation for sloppiness, the media won’t count on you as a source.
5. Be generous. Refer the reporter to other experts and data sources that may help flesh out the story.
6. Be careful. Don’t say anything you don’t want to see spread across the Internet, TV and the newspaper. Going off the record is a rookie mistake.
7. Be courteous. An email thank-you note acknowledging the reporter’s story is a nice touch. Don’t gush, but do express your gratitude for their interest.
Follow these simple steps, add time and patience, and you’ll become a go-to source for media.
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