You’ve established your personal brand. How do you let the world know who you are and what you’re selling? Consider pitching a story to the media. But first you need to prepare to maximize your chances of being quoted and becoming a reliable source for reporters.
Not every interview or interaction with a reporter will result in an article. Some discussions are meant to foster a relationship and build the reporter’s confidence that you are a “good interview.”
Here are what I call the Ten Commandments of an interview that will lead to your being quoted more often.
Take a Position
- Develop a point of view — be specific
- Wishy-washy perspectives are not interesting
- Be controversial
Good: Don’t be fooled, Google is still winning the search battle.”
Bad: “All search engines have their strong points.”
Use a compelling “grabber”
- 10 words or less rule
- Fewer syllables are better
- Verbosity is fatal
Good: Cigarettes are nothing more than drug delivery devices.
Bad: Even though people know cigarettes are bad for them, they persist in smoking because they like the taste of nicotine, which cigarette companies are counting on.
- Reporters like punchy, colorful statements
- Beware of clichés
Good: “China stiff-armed us with trade barriers.”
Bad: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
- Two of the most beautiful words to a reporter’s ears: “For example,”
- Get permission from clients
Good: “For example, Goliath.com has pushed everyone out of its space.”
Bad: “There are a lot of companies plying their wares on the Internet. Some are doing better than others.”
- Use striking language to drive home your points
- Compare to something reporter will recognize
Good: “He streaked to the top of his company like a meteor.”
Bad: “He had a lot of luck and also did his homework so he made quick progress moving through the ranks.”
Make Yourself Available
- Return phone calls
- Text message or email
- Call even past deadline
Good: “I’ll call you at 2 o’clock.”
Bad: Repeated lengthy delays.
Know What the Reporter Writes About
- Google the reporter and read the last few stories he has written
- Follow on Twitter and other social media networks
- Shape your pitch based on reporter’s hot buttons
Good: “I just read your post about Hometown Bank failing. I worked for the bank before their troubles began and I can point to three things that I believe derailed them.”
Bad: “Hi, do you cover the banking industry?”
Invite Reporters to Speak on Panels With You
- Reporters are looking to build their reputations as experts
- Team with them on panels
Good: Invite a reporter to be on a panel with you to establish your expertise and hers. Be available for an interview when she writes about the topic again.
Bad: Send reporter your speech and never follow up again.
Introduce Reporters to People They Want to Meet
- Find out who reporters want to meet
- Arrange introductions
Good: If you know an important business executive or celebrity a reporter wants to meet, arrange an introduction – even if the eventual story doesn’t mention you or your company. Build good will.
Bad: Tell the reporter you can’t help him when he asks if you can make an introduction because you don’t think you will get quoted.
- Treat reporters like clients
- Send articles, case studies, and other relevant materials.
Good: Lengthy courtship
Bad: Call only when you want something
Building your brand takes time — and it takes time to build relationships with reporters. Ask yourself, “How can I help this reporter,” instead of “How can this reporter help me?”
If you do that, over time you will find yourself becoming a “go-to” source for the media, and recognized as a subject expert by your clients and potentials clients.
Have you been quoted in the media?
What worked for you? How did you make it happen?