Nine Keys to PR Success

Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today's post. He helps associations generate publicity about their events and activities. Learn more about Edward here.


An important part of any effort to generate publicity about your association is understanding and knowing how to get along with reporters.


I’ve created a list of nine essential pieces of advice about the media you can use to help you achieve your organization’s PR goals. The advice is based on my experience as the CEO of an association; a director of communications for an association; a PR consultant to several associations; and a practicing journalist.


Do Your Homework. The easiest way to find out what stories reporters are most interested in covering is to ask them, and study the stories they’ve already done. To ensure a reporter will use your press release, write it as though it’s a newspaper story, and include the 5 Ws and the H of your announcement: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.


Be Newsworthy. Have something newsworthy to announce or talk about. Study different news organizations (print, online, broadcast, etc.) to find out what kind of stories they are covering, and what they consider to be news.


Remember the Reporters’ Role. Reporters want to satisfy their own needs, not yours. They wear the shoes of the readers, viewers or listeners. While you may have a burning desire to tell journalists about your association, their task is to gather as much information as possible and produce a story that will hold an audience’s attention. Reporters are neither your friends nor your enemies. They are professionals trying to do the best job they can.


Limit Your Points. Prioritize the three most important things you would like to see in the story about your association, then keep your copy and comments focused on those points.


Be Brief. The average sound bite is about seven seconds long (and shrinking). If you cannot answer a reporter’s question in the time it takes to read this paragraph aloud, it is unlikely that you response will be used by television or radio reporters.


Prepare for Questions. Before talking with reporters about your announcement, make a list of every possible question they might ask about it, and prepare a brief and appropriate answer for each question. Don’t try to wing it. If you don’t know the answer to a reporter’s question, say so. Then tell him or her that you will find out the answer and get back to them as soon as possible.


Know When to Call. Most reporters do not like it when you call them to find out if they received the news release, e-mail, or text you sent them. But most of them will appreciate it if you let them know ahead of time that you are sending them a story that you think they will be interested in covering.


Be Careful. Assume the microphone is always on when doing media interviews and that every word you utter may be recorded, broadcast or posted online. Weigh everything that you say very carefully, because there is no way to call anything back anything you say.


Learn from Yourself and Others. After each interaction with the media, think about what worked, what didn’t, and what you will do differently or better the next time. Study the successes and mistakes of others in the public spotlight to help improve the effectiveness of your association’s public relations activities.


Want PR for your event? Through an exclusive arrangement with Bob & David James, Edward Segal can promote your next conference or convention. Our PR packages range from Silver and Gold to Platinum; and include news releases, backgrounders, white papers, videos, expert interviews and more. Call 202.810.9568 to learn more.

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