“Should I offer my story as an exclusive?” A hotel executive asked after listening to my “How to Attract More Free Earned Media” talk for the New Mexico Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism.
For any organization wanting more media coverage, you need to ask yourself whether you should invite all the media or offer an exclusive. Running the risk of sounding like an attorney, I answered, “It depends.”
5 Questions to Ask Before You Offer An Exclusive Media Story
I then asked her a few questions:
- Who are your target customers?
- Do you know what TV/radio stations your target customers watch or listen to the most?
- Do you have a favorite reporter or someone you owe a favor to that might be useful further down the road?
- If you invite all the stations, have you figured out how you’re going to structure the news conference?
- Could you schedule their individual visits?
Obviously, to make the best decision there are a lot of nuisances to consider. A little research is required.
The easy answer is to invite them ALL! But please don’t lump them all together.
HOW TO COORDINATE A NEWS CONFERENCE
No station likes a podium filled with all the other stations’ microphone flag logos. They want the story to look like the interviews are exclusive to their viewers.
Take for example a company called Pixologie – a photo restoration company.
Mollie and Ann from Pixologie were hired by the Charles Allis Art Museum to collect and restore old photos of the Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company, which had been a huge employer in the Milwaukee area for years.
The museum only had a few photos of what the company used to look like inside. Now they needed to ask the public for help to find more.
Mollie asked me what they should do to get coverage and I said, “You should hold a news conference.”
“Us? We can hold a news conference?” she asked.
“Yes, you can, and bringing all the people together actually makes the job easier for the media,” I replied.
The timing was perfect. Labor Day was the Monday before their big Saturday event when people could come to the museum, bring their old photos of the company, and get them scanned for free.
Labor Day was perfect because the story focused on the history of work done by hundreds of Wisconsinites over the years; the “retirees” was the media “Hook”.
How and Why You Should Pitch Media Ideas for the Holidays!
Plus, since Labor Day is a holiday, Pixologie had two bonuses:
1) Government and business offices are closed; which means the media is more likely to do softer news stories since there is no typical “day-of” news to handle.
2) Newsrooms usually have less staff because people take the day off.
If you provide what journalists call “One Stop Shopping”, where everyone can be interviewed in one place, then you’re more likely to get coverage.
THE 3 BEST PEOPLE TO SPEAK AT A NEWS CONFERENCE
I outlined how Pixologie could attract the media by offering three “key” people at their news conference.
- The “It’s Personal” person/family
- The Authority Figure
- The Concerned Person
The “It’s Personal” person is the MOST important because a reporter must have someone that has been personally affected by the story in order for them to do a longer and more complete story.
Without the number one person, you’ll see only a quick mention with the authority figure on TV.
As fate would have it, Mollie found a great woman whose parents met at Allis Chalmers. She wouldn’t be alive without the company! This woman happened to come into their offices a couple of weeks before, plus she was willing to talk on camera about it. Thank you, Universe!
Next, the media needs the authority figure to describe why the event is happening in the first place. The head of the Charles Allis Art Museum was there. And as concerned photo historians, Mollie and/or Ann had to explain how the photos were going to be handled.
They set up three different areas at the news conference for the reporters to rotate and interview each person separately.
In the end, two out of four stations came to the news conference, and the producer of my show at the time booked them for a live interview without me even asking or knowing they had been booked. Good for them!
And good for you! Now you know the questions to ask yourself before you alert the media.
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