like many media organizations, receives many requests for coverage from
companies and professional media relations firms. Companies are always looking
for good publicity around their products and services, or maybe around an
employee who has received an award, contributed to the community in a positive
way or achieved a major career accomplishment.
Media also covers breaking news,
and that is not always flattering to the companies or individuals involved.
Whether it is a technology outage, lawsuit or even something criminal in
nature, its impact may extend beyond the company itself and affect employees
and shareholders, the broader industry or community.
There is an old saying that “any
publicity is good publicity,” but not all publicity is created equal.
We have put together this guide on
dealing with members of the media, including FreightWaves, to help you improve
the chances that your product, service or news will be covered, and to assist
in dealing with media representatives during negative news cycles.
First, understand that the media is
often interested in covering your news, but may not have the resources
available to do so at that time. Second, remember that the media in general is
committed to providing fair and objective news coverage of events – and most media
outlets do so. Certainly, if you are the subject of negative press, you may not
see it that way, but even in those instances, the media can be your friend (see
below on how to make this happen).
Here is a simple guide on how best
to get coverage of your news:
1. Don’t rely only on news services. News services distribute thousands of releases per day and yours can be buried in inboxes. Also, not all news outlets subscribe to all services, so if you only distribute through one, there is a chance you are missing part of your intended audience. It is best to build an internal contact list that includes key media members at outlets that you would like to cover your news. Some outlets have general media email addresses or phone numbers that can be used. FreightWaves uses email@example.com. You can also find individual reporters’ contact information through company websites, web searches and even LinkedIn in some cases. Also, most media members will honor news embargoes, so sending news ahead of its official release can give your preferred media outlets a jump on getting the news out. If news is sent under embargo, be sure to get confirmation that the outlet will honor the embargo.
2. Refine the
sending a press release to a media outlet will not guarantee coverage. To
improve the chances your news will be covered, understand the media outlet’s
audience and its approach. Some outlets republish press releases as is, while
others prefer to cover the news with their own staff.
When making the initial pitch,
putting the news in a broader context is helpful. Is this news only relevant to
your company’s customers, or is it part of a wider industry trend? A broader
trend story often draws more interest from readers than product-specific
relevant information upfront. This
includes all the key details in the initial release and providing images
without being asked, if appropriate. If company representatives are available
to speak on the news, include that in the pitch.
responsive. One of the
biggest complaints reporters have is the lack of responsiveness. News cycles
move fast, and the longer a reporter is left waiting for a response, the
greater the chances more immediate news trumps yours.
5. Ten emails
are too much. Another
common complaint that can impact coverage is overly aggressive follow up. One
or two follow-up emails is often fine, but 10 consecutive days of emails is not
going to get you coverage, just an annoyed reporter that will ignore future
pitches from you.
that what you say to media members is considered on-the-record unless specified
otherwise. So, if you don’t want to read it, don’t say it.
7. We love
story pitches. Some of
the best story ideas come from those with boots on the ground, and that is the
companies themselves. Pitches are a great way to get your company name or key
executive recognized as experts in their respective spaces. Media are always
looking for experts who can speak on various topics. If you see news happening
in the industry, or trends that are affecting business cycles, don’t be afraid
to offer up a representative to speak on the topic. Generally, members of the
media prefer to speak with executives or key employees on topics because they
are experts, so when making a pitch, ensure they are available to speak.
Include images, graphics or video. Don’t be surprised, though, if the reporter
includes other voices in the report. Inclusion of additional voices is a common
technique to ensure articles are as fairly balanced as possible.
Dealing with bad news
One of the worst parts of any
reporters’ job is writing negative news. Sometimes, though, the job requires
it. Making that telephone call to a company or individual that may be suffering
through a negative event is not easy. For the person on the receiving end of
that phone call or email, the task is equally difficult.
To deal with negative news cycles,
many companies have crisis communication plans in place. For some, that means
ignoring media calls or issuing blanket “no comment” statements. While there
may be times this is appropriate, it also prevents the business from helping
shape the narrative. The news will still be published with or without the
A more proactive crisis
communications plan is often the best approach. This means accepting ownership
of a situation, providing what information can be publicly shared at that time,
making company executives available to media as appropriate, and continually
updating the media on the status of the situation.
The media can be a conduit to your
customers, so cooperating with reporters is often the most effective way to
quickly disseminate information. Rarely does ignoring a situation work out in
the long-term, so it’s usually best to get in front of the news and help shape
To each company, any individual
piece of news is important. Unfortunately, not all news is created equal, and
as such, media outlets will pick and choose news to cover that they feel will
resonate best with their readers/viewers/listeners. Companies can improve the
chance their news is covered by putting it in the proper context, pitching it
to the appropriate media outlets, and cooperating with the media interested in
covering that news.
Like the sales process, media
coverage is a relationship-based process, and simple steps that help improve
the process can lead to improved coverage and visibility for your company and