Gaining Credibility: Media Coverage is the Key

logosm.jpg Gaining Credibility:  Media Coverage is the Key
by Anne Howard for Rush PR News

Los Angeles, CA (rushprnews) April 12, 2007  For brick and mortar businesses, the transition to e-commerce can be daunting and exhilarating, if the right steps are taken.  The author suggests media coverage as a valuable tool in gaining credibility on the Web. Your brick and mortar business is well established and you really do not feel that you have anything to prove to anyone.  Your revenues are stable, you are moving along just fine. Well at least you thought so until recently. 

That is until you realized that the business world has been undergoing a second industrial revolution – one of a global scope and that you must adapt today to compete. 

What am I talking about?Well of course, the Internet – electronic commerce, the fast moving of new ideas and business concepts that travel over the web.  Therefore, you hire a few outside service providers, first a website designer, then a SEO and a business consultant that shows you the ups and downs and hopefully guide you through this maze, and it looks like payoffs.

The next question you may ask yourself is how to derive new revenues from these new expenditures?  How to attract new customers to your new website and so to speak, place of business?  The answer my friend is to gain credibility by obtaining media coverage from respected journalists. 

However, unless you understand the fundamentals to good public relations, you may come across as a rank amateur to that much sought-after editor at your favorite media outlet.  After all, your first audience is the press.

So, how do you present yourself and your company as polished and professional?  Start with the following six steps:

      Idea:  In clear, concise plain English NOT business jargon, describe what makes your company and services unique or at least important to the readers of the publication. Why should they care about you?  What can you do for them?  How is this news? Focus on new developments, the impact you will have on a specific industry, a trend or much needed solution to an ebusiness problem.  DO NOT claim that you are the next “Yahoo,” or “EBay.”  Take the opportunity and make the effort to distinguish yourself from the pack.

People:  Who are the key people in management?  What is their professional and educational background?  OK to strategically name drop here.  “Joe is a Harvard MBA, Mary came over from Amazon.com.”  The Internet industry is still new –people with a proven record of accomplishment draw attention.  Determine who will be the best company spokesperson for a given audience.  Do not push the CFO for an interview with a marketing pub.  Present someone who has a compelling story or real industry strength.

Research: Research, research and more research.  Even if you are crunched for time, it is crucial that you are familiar with the media outlet that you are approaching.  Read the articles, find the writer that is interested in what you have to say and then write a compelling, one paragraph pitch letter.  

A journalist is deluged daily with story ideas.  If you sound well informed and genuinely interested in his beat and articles, you may very well capture his attention.  Even if he does not use your story idea, chances are he will remember you the next time.

Communicate: Start with an email, use that pitch letter.  Do not send unsolicited attachments.  That is THE sure way to insure that your pitch is deleted BEFORE it even hits the screen.  You may offer to send additional info after you have made initial contact with a writer or editor.  Wait a few days for a response and then place a call.  Be prepared to leave a voicemail.  Speak slowly and be polite. Your voicemail may be a shorter version of your original pitch.  Repeat your name and phone number at least twice.  If you don’t get a callback, and are convinced that your stuff would be great for this publication, go back to step-three and do more research to identify someone else who may be interested.  Do not get in touch with the entire editorial staff.  Remember that very often, reporters are all sitting next to each other in a small space.  Be aggressive but be selective.

Follow-through:  You have reached a receptive reporter/editor.  You are on his radar screen and you have promised him additional information about your company, the industry or your CEO.  Listen to what he has asked you and send him the specifics within 72 hours.  Do not send him the same old press kit, which he most likely can find on your web site, unless that is what he has specifically requested.  Respond to his needs. If you mention a WSJ article or a case study that sparked his interest, send it along – it is a nice touch.

Build a bridge:    When reaching out to the press, remember to demonstrate a solid grasp of the issues at play.  Engage in meaningful dialogue about your company and industry issues.  Offer yourself as a resource even when it might not benefit you directly.  You will benefit in the end.  Create opportunities for ongoing updates and conversation. The best media contacts are long-term relationships.  Make the effort to cultivate and maintain these connections and you give yourself the best opportunity to gain the media exposure you desire and deserve. 

The more time you take to plan your media strategy, refine your ideas and express yourself clearly and concisely, the better reputation you will have with the press.  Maybe next time they will call YOU for a story!  

About the author:  

Anne Howard aka Anne Laszlo-Howard (anne@annehowardpublicist) is the Founder of RushPRnews., a press releases services company based in Los Angeles and Montreal. Anne specializes in public relations for ebusiness and the entertainment industry.  You may visit her atwww.rushprnews.com>www.annehowardpublicist.com

Contact: Anne Howard 310-295-9578anne@annehowardpublicist.com