Self-sabotage before the news media happens to the best of organizations. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent it, or turn it around once it has already occurred.
Here are the top five things your organization can do to assure fair and accurate media coverage.
- Establish reasonable expectations about media coverage of your organization. Serious, professional journalists will never be concerned with your image, so don’t expect it. If your standards for coverage are fairness, accuracy and balance, you’ll be on the same wavelength with most media representatives. If you expect special treatment, better stick with advertising.
- Learn how the news media work. What is news and what isn’t? How are stories assigned? Remember, news media organizations are for-profit businesses. Media coverage of your organization will improve when you know as much about them as you expect them to know about you.
- Develop the skills you need to work with the media. Make certain that anyone in your organization who will do interviews has experience and/or professional training in interview skills and crisis communication. Interviewing is not simply a matter of holding a conversation with a reporter. It is a meeting of agendas, and that requires knowing how to communicate your organization’s messages.
- Establish relationships with members of the media. There is no such thing as a last-minute friendship with the news media, especially in the case of a crisis or special event. Reach out. Don’t wait for them to come to you. It’s really no different from your own sales department, or life in general, for that matter. It boils down to three things: 1) Who do you know? 2) How do you get along with them? And 3) What are you doing to maintain the relationship?
- Take responsibility for your own image in the news media. This is probably the single greatest step any organization can take to improve its media coverage. You might be amazed at how reporting about your organization improves when you stop blaming the news media for bad coverage and become intent on talking to the media effectively to deliver your own messages.
Also published on Medium.