How To Handle The Media’s Tough Questions – And Come Out Smiling

How To Handle The Media’s Tough Questions – And Come Out Smiling

What makes for a good talk radio or TV show, or a captivating newspaper or magazine article? Often, it’s a little controversy – just the thing many people being interviewed by the media hope to avoid. They want a friendly chat, but they fear an inquisition. I confess to a mixed view here. I understand the value of a robust debate – and I also sympathize with the trepidation of our clients who are afraid they’ll be lobbed a live grenade instead of a polite question. But remember this: people go head-to-head with talk show hosts and print journalists every day and emerge smiling with their dignity and all their body parts intact. How? They’re prepared. You can be, too. Let me share a few tricks for holding your own during a media interview, regardless of whether the person asking the questions decides to stir things up or not: Make it a conversation. During the interview, don’t picture yourself on a stage or as a voice blaring from car stereo speakers. Instead, talk with the interviewer as if the two of you are having a conversation in your living room. I’ve had many clients tell me that once they understood this approach, interviews were much easier no matter what direction the journalist or talk show host tried to steer the interview. Boil down your thoughts to three to five bullet points. These will be the messages you want to get across, the information that will be the most valuable to the readers, listeners or viewers. (Note: I know the message most valuable to you is “buy my book/product/service,” but...
The Secret To Promoting Yourself Is That It’s NOT All About You

The Secret To Promoting Yourself Is That It’s NOT All About You

Sometimes the harshest truths are the most important ones. In public relations, one of the most important truisms revolves around the primary question members of the media ask themselves as they evaluate potential stories: Who really cares? They ask that not to be rude, but out of a genuine desire to serve their audiences. Now, as media consumers, we may argue with some of their story choices (personally, I never understood the endless fascination with the Kardashians), but we have to remember that the media’s revenue comes from the size and scope of their audiences. If they believe their audience wants to hear about a particular person or story, you can be assured they’ll cover it. For anyone seeking to promote themselves or their business, that “who really cares?” question is absolutely paramount because it reveals one of the most critical and common pitfalls in the PR business. That is, the idea that promoting yourself should be all about you. The hard fact is that if the media don’t already know who you are, they really don’t care about you. They don’t care about your book, your website, your company, your product or just about anything you’re selling. Of course, their advertising director would love to sell you time or space, but that’s advertising, not PR. So your key question becomes: How do I get the media to care about me? The answer is you must demonstrate to them that your expertise and your message will add value to the lives of their audiences. Now, many self-help authors will think that should be easy, but it’s not. It’s not...
Why Your Marketing Plan is like A New Year’s Resolution

Why Your Marketing Plan is like A New Year’s Resolution

If you sat down at your desk the first workday of the New Year, and vowed to do something bigger and better to market yourself or your business in 2017, you certainly were in good company. There’s nothing like the fresh start of a New Year for motivating us to tackle what seemed to be an overwhelming task last year. But, unfortunately, the odds may be stacked against your well-intentioned plan. The failure rate for strategic business plans is right on par with that for New Year’s resolutions, which is a discouraging 88 percent. That doesn’t mean your marketing plan, or my diet for that matter, is doomed. It simply means we both need to be more committed and disciplined! As with diet and exercise, consistency makes all the difference in marketing and public relations. A well-executed strategic plan of action builds credibility, image and brand, and keeps you relevant. It takes small steps every day. Sound familiar? Large organizations with dedicated marketing teams have an advantage: They have people whose only job is to make sure their name is out there in a favorable light. They are just like those movie stars with personal trainers and private chefs – they don’t have to drag themselves to the gym each day because the gym comes to them. They don’t have to come up with delicious low-cal recipes; their chef does it for them. The rest of us have to do it all ourselves. If you’re running a business, big or small, the daily fires that need to be put out – generating revenues, managing staff, getting vendors paid or...
Plan Your 2017 Marketing And Reduce Your Tax Bill At the Same Time

Plan Your 2017 Marketing And Reduce Your Tax Bill At the Same Time

Have you ever noticed that often in life we fail to take advantage of all the opportunities available to us – even when we knew or should have known they were there for the plucking? Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about that’s relevant as the end of 2016 comes roaring into sight and soon will be nothing more than a fading memory in our rearview mirrors. Most of us know that when you spend marketing dollars before Dec. 31 you gain a 2016 tax write-off. But let’s face it, at this time of year we get caught up in last-minute shopping, decorating and other holiday activities that are mixed in with our already hectic day-to-day responsibilities. Thoughts about what we might be doing to score some down-to-the-wire tax savings can’t always find their way through all that clutter. Perhaps around the second week of January what we missed will dawn on us and we’ll smack ourselves in the head like those people in the old “I could have had a V-8” commercials! I don’t know about you, but I never like the feeling I get when I think I may have squandered opportunities for both promotions and tax savings. I mean, it’s a double whammy of woes and you never want to fall into that trap. So let me offer a few simple suggestions on how you can combine thinking about taxes with thinking about marketing and come out ahead on both. No need to delay. “But, Marsha,” you say, “I’m not releasing anything until a few months into the New Year. I’ve got...
Tailor Your Message To Match The Media’s Needs

Tailor Your Message To Match The Media’s Needs

One of the challenges we often face at EMSI is helping our clients understand the need to tailor their message – or even condense it – so that it appeals to busy editors and producers whose email inboxes are inundated with pitches. That’s the name of the game with publicity. If you can’t sell the media on your message, you won’t reach your audience. It’s a lesson I learned early on in this business. I built my company on a pay-for-performance approach, so it was clear that if I was going to be successful I would need to serve two clients – those who pay me to get them in the media, but also the media themselves by giving them content that suits their needs and engages their audiences. Just this week some of the team members at EMSI and I were discussing how some clients have big, complicated messages with numerous working parts, all of which they want to cram into one short article or interview. That’s just not going to work. It’s like trying to stuff your entire wardrobe into one carry-on travel bag. In that situation, we tell them, it’s better to break your message down into bite-size chunks, pitching easily digestible portions of it to the media rather than trying to serve them every item on your menu. I’d say most people get this once you explain it to them. But, unfortunately, not everyone does. Not long ago, one client rebuffed our efforts to help him massage his message in a way that would give it broader appeal, saying, “I’m not here to please the...
How PR Can Help Mend Your Broken Reputation

How PR Can Help Mend Your Broken Reputation

I’m happy to report that the Internet remains one of the most powerful tools around for helping you build your brand, whether your goal is to promote yourself, your business or both. I’m not so happy to report that there’s a downside. Unfortunately, the Internet is also a tool that your detractors can wield to tear down your reputation and sully your brand. Dissatisfied customers, sneaky competitors and anyone else with a keyboard can post critical reviews and maybe even outright fabrications about you, and their words could show up when people start searching you out in the online world. This is also true if you made some regrettable mistake that was significant enough to become media fodder. That may show up, too, much to your reputation’s detriment. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are steps you can take to repair your online reputation, though admittedly this can sometimes be a long-term endeavor. Let’s explore some of the possibilities: Secure media coverage. One way to fight bad publicity on the Internet is to counter it with good publicity. If the news media publish articles or broadcast interviews that put you in a good light, the negativity can be pushed down in the results people see when they Google your name. So pitch yourself to the media, offering to speak on your area of expertise. For example, if you’re a financial professional, you could talk about ways people can plan for a more stable retirement. If you’re a nutritionist, you could discuss dieting tips. Let the media know you are at the ready to provide useful information...