9 Simple Ways To Sink Your Chances With the Media

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Sinking your chances“We sent a press release, but nobody ever called.”

“We never get any attention.”

“That wasn’t the story we wanted to talk about. They published something completely different and twisted it around!”

Every day, hundreds and thousands and millions of people are trying to get their message out via the media. Over the last five years or so, the media has changed radically — some bloggers are given press passes, some websites are reporting and commenting on news, newspapers are going to paywalls, reporters are creating their own blogs and there are lots of people out there claiming to be media who don’t know a story from a hole in the wall.

And there are even MORE people sending (what they may imagine are) press releases — burying offices and newsrooms with information.

If you want to be among the majority who never see daylight with the media, here are 9 simple ways to do it:

  1. Send marketing material, not a piece of actual news. Make sure it includes every possible piece of message you can think of. Three pages should do it. Describe a service, give a detailed inventory of what you stock, make unsubstantiated claims of superiority among your competitors — you get the idea. That way, you can be certain you’ll be among the deluge of emails that are instantly deleted as the media searches (daily) for new stories.
  2. Expect an immediate response. Expect them to be waiting at their desks (or smart phones) to get your release, and answer right away. Don’t even give them 24 hours to get back to you. Don’t these people work? Also — when you do get a response, don’t answer the message right away. That’ll teach them a lesson.
  3. Don’t see your own story or how it relates to events, news or other people. You run a business, right? Not a nursery school. You’re too busy to sit around thinking about “stories” — like how your new product is going to dramatically change specific people’s daily lives in a simple way. Or how you’ve managed to stay in business for 10 years in a tough economic period (who needs tips you might have?). Never think about what stories relate to the world you’re in. Believe that the media should think up their own. That’s their job.
  4. Send that press release to as many people as you can. Send it everywhere! Whether it relates to them or not. Don’t target it to the people who are in your field or industry, who are looking for that exact information. No. Quantity over target audience! If you spread it around enough somebody should be interested, right?
  5. Don’t find out who writes about what or who’s the right person in the right department. And never read what they write! Who has time to read any more? You have other things to do. Reading articles, following them on Twitter, checking out the website — decide it’s a waste of your time.
  6. Be unprepared when the media does contact you. Don’t know your stuff. Give long-winded answers off topic. Try to sneak in marketing messages so they’ll portray you in a good light. Don’t have any facts or figures – or offer to find out the ones you don’t know and get back about it.
  7. Assume every writer and reporter is going to act like they’re from 60 Minutes or 20/20 — and they want to screw you. Immediately feel defensive and suspicious. The media is the enemy. They’re just looking for something that will make them look brilliant and you look like a stooge. (For a sure-fire way to torpedo a media relationship — attempt to actually screw media if they’re good-looking.)
  8. Don’t be available after you’ve give your contact information. You did your job — you sent the press release with all the proper information. But what the hell — you’ve got a life! The last thing you can do is sit around waiting to be contacted. Why should you worry about someone else’s schedule — they should call when you’re available. But don’t include that information. Don’t include a back-up contact either, in case you’re hanging in traction at a hospital somewhere.
  9. If you’re a business, don’t invest in any professional photography. It’s too expensive! Your smart phone takes pretty decent pictures. And you have those photos someone in the office took — the empty office shot shows you have computers! Why shouldn’t those come out decently in the article? And if they don’t — it’s the media’s fault. They should have better technology to fix them.

The best advice is to get to know the media you want to connect with. (For real.)

Watch them on TV, read their articles, know what beats they cover. Comment on their blogs, follow them on social media. (Not in a stalk-y way, however.) If you’re unsure whether you have an actual news story or information, send a message to them and ask what they think — if they say yes, send the release. They may even contact you faster than you think.

If you can give a writer, reporter or editor what they need when they need it, you’re on your way to becoming a source. No shipwrecks for you.

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