That’s What Makes Media Magic

What truly makes this process magical is that when you appear in the media, regardless of how big or how small the outlet, you never know who’s going to see it or what opportunity is going to come your way because of it. A local Los Angeles-based newspaper once ran a story on my company, which elicited almost no response. I was a bit disappointed, but it was a great article and made for a wonderful tear sheet to use in my media package. A few weeks later I received a call from an author in Florida who had been sent a copy of the article and wanted to hire us. Florida? In three weeks I had not received one call from the Los Angeles area in response to the article, and here I was receiving a call from Florida. Apparently a friend of the author, who lives in Southern California, had seen the piece and mailed it to her. The author explained that the article, which focused on my firm’s ability to place clients on national talk shows, interested her. Her book was about to be published, and she wanted to appear in the national media, especially talk shows. She signed with us, and we were able to launch a very
successful campaign for her. Our relationship with the author led to a relationship with her publishing company, which resulted in us working with other authors they represented. So, even though, the article only brought us one phone call, that one call was a great one. Because of that one piece, we developed a working relationship not only with the author, but with her publisher. The article also served as a great tear sheet which I can send to other media outlets as well as to prospective clients. So look at the big picture when viewing your public relations campaign. You never know who is going to see or read a particular story, and if you don’t do the interviews and utilize your press, you never will.

You’re Placing a Story Where?

Every client’s happy when we place them on the Today show or Oprah or in Newsweek, but they’re not quite as overjoyed when we place them on an Internet TV outlet or in an obscure magazine. I know there are times my clients find my choice of media placements bewildering. The media outlets are too small, too insignificant, too obscure. They don’t reach the client’s direct target market. Why do it? There will be no response. It’s a waste of time and money.

Not really. We place the stories, because we know that we can use them to our advantage. We can use that media coverage, to help garner other coverage, to help land more articles and other TV interviews. It’s important to have a broad perspective and see the whole picture. The process isn’t as obvious as it may seem at first glance. Instead of just asking if a particular story will bring in immediate clients or calls, ask yourself if that story will help you garner other media, or if will it be useful to you in your overall marketing plan. If you look at it from that perspective, you’ll soon start to see that press coverage, whether large or small, can all be of use to help build a powerful and effective media campaign.

Even When it Works; There’s More Work

Let’s suppose an article has the exact effect that you’re hoping for. The phones are
ringing day and night. Both your business and your bank account are flourishing. Success! Now you can forget about that story and move on. No. No. No. Whether the article elicits a negligible response or a huge response, you still need to work it. This is where most people fail to understand the process. Because their short-term goals were met, they stop in mid process and neglect their long-term goals.

My first public relations firm specialized in representing clients in the entertainment field. We were once retained by a young actress who perfectly illustrated this point. She had been a regular in a prime time TV series. The series had been canceled, and she wanted to do more film work. During the time that the series was on TV, she had received a mountain of press, including stories in People, The Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Tonight, but when I asked to see copies or video of some of her media, she just stared at me. She hadn’t kept any. While she had been on the series, the media exposure had accomplished its short term work, keeping her in the public eye, and that’s all she had been concerned with. She never looked at her long term goals. The media coverage she had received was worth its weight in gold, but she didn’t see it. You don’t need to be in the entertainment industry to learn from her mistake. When it comes to launching an effective, ongoing public relations campaign, you not only need to see the forest but the trees, grass, and bushes, as well as all the furry animals along the way.

Effectively Working Your Media Coverage

When an article is published or TV segment runs. That’s not the end of it. You need to work it. Become the story’s distributor – and I mean distributor in the most basic sense – circulate your story, spread the word, mention the story in your biography and fact sheet, use it when pitching other stories, let other media outlets know that you were featured in the article. Duplicate it and use it as a press sample. Use quotes from the story in your mailers, newsletters, ads, and marketing to help you cement your existing client base. If you have employees, distribute it through your company as a form of internal publicity. If used correctly, you can turn this media coverage into a most powerful marketing tool.

It’s important to understand exactly how media relations works. By understanding the process, you make it a cumulative, ongoing process. Media begets media. You can turn an initial opportunity into ongoing media coverage. Be creative. Make a list of the various ways you can utilize your media, from ads and newsletters to placing framed copies of articles in you window or office. Don’t waste opportunities due to short sightedness. Be imaginative, inventive. Think outside of the box.

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If You Don’t Run this Story; I’m Taking it to Your Competition

How many people do you know that react well to threats or ultimatums? The media is no different. When pitching the press, you are trying to position yourself as a media resource or an ally, and an ally does not issue threats. You want the media to understand that you can help meet their needs by giving them interesting stories. You are not going to make your story more interesting to a newspaper editor or TV producer by threatening to take your story to his or her competitor.

If your story is hot or timely, and various media outlets are pursuing you, by all means, use that interest to your advantage. Inform the media outlets that there are others interested and that you need to make a decision as soon as possible. Try to negotiate the best coverage you can. But, even in that situation, you never want to threaten the media.

If you can convince the media that you have an interesting story that meets their needs and that you are an expert in the field, the media will feature you. Those are your primary objectives. You can threaten, scream, cry, and badger the media, but all you are going to do is alienate them. Plenty of people do these things every day. Of course, you’ll never see them in the media.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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Either the Media Interviews Me Monday at Noon- Or it’s Off

You have a busy schedule, you have a job to do, a business to run, products to sell. Your time is valuable. Who do the media think they are? They think that you can just drop whatever you’re doing to do an interview when they want to do it? It’s inconvenient. It’s not fair. Maybe, but it’s reality and if you play it smart, it can pay off for you big time. Although you will usually have time to plan and arrange your schedule to do an interview, there are going to be times that the media wants to do an interview and wants to do it immediately, or wants to schedule it at a time that is inconvenient, or reschedules it at the last minute, forcing you to, once again, change your plans. I had one client tell me that he was willing to appear on the Today Show, but that they had to come to him and that the only available time he had was between 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Needless to see he and I had a long talk.

There may be times that you’re just not going to be able to accommodate the media’s schedule. There are going to be some interviews that you’ll have to miss. But only miss an interview if it’s completely unavoidable – the plague, an alien invasion – you get the picture. You may be annoyed, and you may be angry, but if you can possibly arrange your schedule so that you can make the interview, do it. The press isn’t purposely trying to inconvenience you. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times that an editor or producer has to switch from one story to another on a moment’s notice. A million things can come up, a fire, an international breaking story, a Presidential speech, any number of stories are going to preempt you. This is just the nature of the business. It happens all the time.

It does you no good to take your anger out on the interviewer or the producer. It was not done to harm you. The decision was circumstantial. Always keep your objective in mind. Your objective is to build your business, to create success through media exposure. And you’re going to accomplish your goal by reaching as many people as you can. Your objective is to do those interviews, not to alienate the press. Remember, press begets press. Every interview you do is helping to pave your way to greater success.

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Why Press Kits can Backfire

You’ve got it, you’re going to put together a huge, glossy press kit, fill it with bios, press releases, fact sheets, photos, graphs, statistics, brochures, covering everything that ever happened in your life, with every possible bit of information that you have on yourself and your company, and you’re going to send it to every media outlet you can think
of. Interesting plan, if your aim is to throw money away and alienate the media. To begin with, unless you have loads of disposable cash, you’re going to go broke. More importantly, chances are, that it’s going to be incredibly boring, not to mention annoying for the media to receive all that information – information they never requested. Press kits can be effective, but only if they’re used sparingly and shrewdly. Don’t inundate the media with information, and if you’ve hired a firm, don’t give them carte blanche in the matter. Too many PR firms have a tendency to send out press kits en masse. It’s a common practice, but a wasteful one. Also, keep in mind, public relations firms can make a heck of a lot of money charging their clients for high-priced press kits.

Frills and fluff do not make a public relations campaign. Buy yourself some two-pocket folders at any stationery store. Buy a good median-priced folder; you don’t want the most expensive, but you don’t want the cheapest folder either. Inside the folder include copies of any articles or interviews you have appeared in, a fact sheet, a short bio about you and your company, a press release, and any visuals or photos that you believe are important. No fluff, only include the pertinent stuff. That is your press kit. First send a release, make a follow-up call. If a producer or editor asks for a kit, send one, but only to people who have requested it. Be selective. Be smart.

Also, modify your press kit to fit the media that you’re sending to. You may not want to send the same press kit to Time magazine that you would to Runner’s World or Forbes. Be discerning in who you send the kits to and in the materials you include. It will pay off in the long run
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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I’m Only Going to Talk About What I Want to Talk About

We all have different expressions, different moods, and different topics we enjoy discussing. None of us have one-note personalities, but so many people try to launch one-note media campaigns. If you adamantly refuse to broaden the scope of your story, I hope your mother’s a good listener, because there aren’t a hell of a lot of other people who you’re going to reach. People who are inflexible, or have a one-note story, usually have failed media campaigns. Why? They’re boring! When people think this way, it’s generally because they erroneously believe that the rest of the world is just as fascinated by their ideas as they are. Well, they’re wrong.

Most people are going to be bored to tears by what you think is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that doesn’t mean that the topic is boring, but that your approach is. Remember, your job is to meet the media’s needs. Broaden your scope. Come up with other ways to pitch your story. You’ll be able to talk about your story, but not until you interest the media. And to do that, sometimes you have to use the indirect approach.

If you are a landscaper, you may have to pitch a story that has you critique the pros and cons of the White House grounds. That’s not the story you probably particularly want to address. You want to tell people that you are a wonderful landscaper and that they should hire you, but there’s no story there. By talking about the White House grounds, you have added another dimension. You have raised the stakes. You’re not just discussing how to landscape Joe Blow’s home, you’re outlining how to best landscape the First Family’s home. These are grounds that everyone has seen (at least in photos or TV) and can relate to. More importantly, you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

Be open to new ideas, brainstorm. Come up with as many ideas as you can. Let them be as crazy as you want – don’t edit yourself. Now review your list and start to edit out the ideas that don’t work. Formulate two or three new story angles. Write them up as releases. Broadening your scope will help ensure your success.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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I Know What the Media Wants

The media wants stories, but beyond that, not even the media knows what they want. They are constantly searching, trying out new stories, coming up with new ideas. You have to study the various media outlets, review the different formats, study the types of stories they’ve run in the past. No one knows what the media wants because what they want is constantly changing. Don’t take for granted you are some kind of media maven and that you know more than everyone else does. Remember, you’re going to succeed by learning how the media thinks, not by assuming you think they know what they want. You have to prepare, do your homework, study the various media outlets. The bottom line is a good story, but don’t assume because you find a story of interest, the media will like it as well. Nine times out of ten, you’re going to be wrong. Think like an editor, think like a producer. Once again, work backwards. Look at the particular media you are targeting. Who is the audience? What is the basic age range? Does it appeal to primarily men or women? What type of stories does it generally run? Now
put yourself in the place of the editor or producer – how could you fit a story on your business, product, or talent into the format of that media outlet? What story would work? What would the focus be?

For example, let’s say that you are a fashion designer of men’s clothing. GQ and Esquire
would be natural media outlets to approach. You would need to come up with a hook that makes you and your designs special, but you know that with a little persistence and creativity you should be able to place a piece in those publications. What about Vogue? Why not? You could pitch a piece on yourself as the new up-and-coming designer who is reshaping the future of men’s fashion, or a piece, aimed towards women, on how to dress the man in their life. Let’s say you wanted to go to The Wall Street Journal. Okay, pitch a story on dressing for success in the ’90s, or an article on the business of fashion, or the inside workings of the fashion industry. Pitch the media according to its needs, not according to yours. Assume that the story you are dead-set on telling isn’t all that interesting to anyone besides yourself. Now, be creative, give it a spin. Give it a make-over. Make it newsworthy.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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I Don’t Want PR; I Just Want to be Successful

A lot of people have resistance to launching a public relations campaign and doing media. They don’t want to do interviews, they don’t want to be “stars,” they just want their business to be successful. If you feel that way, ask yourself what you’re willing to do to be successful. Are you willing to utilize the most powerful marketing tool available? Are you willing to take risks, utilize the magic of the media, and give your business a real chance for success?

Effective media placement isn’t about wanting to be a star or wanting to appear on the media – it’s about success. It’s about establishing yourself as an expert in your field and zooming beyond your competition. Media relations is a creative, effective, relatively inexpensive, and dynamic way to achieve success. You are not positioning yourself as a “star” or an entertainer, but as an expert in your field. You are establishing yourself as an invaluable resource for the media. You probably don’t like to pay the bills, or do the books, or purchase supplies, but you do it because it’s part of doing business. It is a part of your bottom line. Media placement should also be an integral part of that equation. You do it because you want to be successful. Period.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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I Can’t Use National Media

We live in the information age. If you’re resourceful and inventive enough, you can come up with an interesting story, hook, or idea that will interest the national media. I know you think that you could never garner national media – your story’s simply not exciting enough. But you’re wrong; you can interest the national media. No, you’re probably thinking that even if you could land some national stories, you have no possible use for national media, so what difference does it make? It would just be a waste of time and money for you. You’re based in a little town called Nowhere Ville, USA, so what good would a story that hits all fifty states do you? It’s obvious I just don’t understand your needs.

Well, let’s see. As to your first point, that you don’t have a story that could interest the
national media: why not? Why couldn’t you generate national interest in your story?
Remember everyone who is quoted in Time magazine, or interviewed on the Today show lives and works in some local town or city. Take a look at all of the possible angles available. What makes your story different, unique? Is there some trend or new breakthrough in your field that affects not only your particular business, but your profession as a whole? Are there other similar types of businesses or professionals that you can help weave into your story to give it a broader appeal? Study all of the possibilities. Give your story a wider, more national scope.

Why would you want to garner any national, if you only have a local business? People aren’t going to fly in from around the country to use your plumbing service, or buy insurance from you, or try the newest item on your menu, are they? Maybe, but probably not. So then, is national a waste? Most people will probably tell you so. Most people will tell you to stay local, because that’s where your bread and butter is.

So why am I telling you to pitch the national press? Because, as I mentioned earlier, a national story IS a local story, but one that will nationally establish you as an expert in your field. You will be able to put your media credits in your press releases and bios and, most importantly, national media can help drive your local media through the roof.
Let’s say that you land a thirty-second quote on CNN. Now what? You move as quickly as possible and let your local media outlets know that you were recently featured on CNN. Heck, that in and of itself is news. Believe me, nothing impresses the media more than media. Now you’re national news and you’re in a position to garner local news. National media feeds the local media. It takes some thought, work, and persistence, but the rewards can be incredible.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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