How to Build a Media Profile

By Garrett, Alexander | Management Today, June 2001 | Go to article overview

How to Build a Media Profile


Garrett, Alexander, Management Today


It's time to tell the world about your business. But how? There are hundreds of magazines, newspapers and TV and radio stations out there. You don't want to make a mess of it and win the Duchess of Wessex award for PR. So how do you get the right headlines?

SET YOUR OBJECTIVES. Don't seek publicity for publicity's sake. Graham Lancaster, chairman of PR firm Biss Lancaster Euro RSCG, says: 'Consider which audiences are pivotal to the success of your business and then decide on the best channel to communicate with them.' Via the media isn't necessarily the best option. However, a media profile can play a secondary role in helping to recruit staff. Ian Wright, president of the Institute of Public Relations, says the main point of coverage is to get your product or service more widely known. The advantage of media coverage, he says, is the third-party endorsement it confers.

IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET. Rather than scattering press releases in every direction, concentrate on the media outlets that matter to your key audience. 'Ask your customers what they read,' suggests Adrian Wheeler, vice-chairman of the Public Relations Consultants' Association. Get to know specific publications, and identify the individual journalists covering your sector.

BREAK THE ICE. Don't wait until you have a big story to make contact. Establish a relationship so that when you have something to tell, journalists will be more receptive. Wheeler says well-placed journalists can provide a good sounding board for your ideas. 'Ask them for information -- their impressions of the marketplace, advice to a new company and what information they need.'

GET TO THE POINT. Journalists are time-starved and under pressure,' says Claire Walker, managing director of Firefly Communications. Press conferences are now considered a waste of time for all but the most earth-shattering announcements, and if you persuade a journalist to have lunch they will expect to go back to their office with a story they can use. …

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