- Prepare pictures. Hire a photographer to take some great shots of your products and/or you. If you are lucky enough to get your story in a magazine, digital news service, online trade journal, company newsletter or website, TV program or newspaper, don’t expect there are time or funds for a staff photographer to come to you. Or, if they do come, they may not take the photo at your best angle! And ladies, please put some makeup on. Now for the chaps, sort out what colour shirt suits you best. We can’t all be rock stars but if you are on the tele promoting your company or ideas, then you should look your best. These are tricks musicians and actors have used for years, but they apply to anyone.
- Prepare your story. Engage a professional writer to produce a short narrative on your story and that of your business or organisation. Journalists can then scan relevant information and check facts easily. This helps to communicate all the good things, before a meeting is even scheduled. It is my specialty and saves both reporters, and those wanting to engage with them, a lot of time and hassle. Go to www.perthmedia.com.au for details on how to produce a first-class Business Press Pack. It is a bit captain obvious but don’t write it yourself unless you have excellent grammar and copywriting skills. Most don’t and, as a working journalist, I have seen some terrible attempts at press packs over the years. This includes some absolute nonsense from high-profile, expensive PR firms, both in Australia and the UK. And no you can’t learn copywriting by doing an online course for a day. It is a highly-skilled profession that takes years to perfect.
- Be polite and approachable. Remember you are speaking to a journalist who is writing about your message and story and it will be published to a much wider audience. A small newspaper or online news site may only have several thousand readers, but you can’t meet thousands of people one-on-one. Be courteous at all times, however annoying or stupid the questions appear. Mostly journalists are doing you a favour, not the other way around. You want them to call back.
- Be cool. Don’t bombard reporters with too much information or pester them. They don’t want to hear your life whole story for a short news yarn. If you are too long winded, ego driven or overly friendly in a creepy way, the media will avoid contacting you. Be grateful for what you get. If there is a line wrong in an article, maybe you weren’t good at explaining a point or slurred your words so you were misunderstood. Relax, rise above the annoyance and don’t make a fuss.
- Good manners. Even if you are busy and speaking to a reporter is the last thing on your mind. Respond to media queries with good manners. “Hi, thanks for getting in touch. I am traveling right now, would you mind if I called you next week?” This is far better than ignoring requests. And remember young, inexperienced reporters could one day be well-known national presenters or producers.
Cate Rocchi has been a journalist for more than 20 years. She trained on The Kalgoorlie Miner, in Western Australia, and has been a reporter for Aspermont’s Australia’s Mining Monthly. She has worked for some of the world’s largest financial publishing houses including Incisive Media in London and Haymarket’s Asian Investor in Hong Kong. Cate has also been employed by Hedge Fund Intelligence’s Eurohedge and submitted articles to Playtimes in Hong Kong. Now she lives in Perth, Australia, and provides transparent public relations’ services and practical, high-level media training through her company, Perth Media. She has written speeches for corporate leaders and works for clients in Singapore and throughout Australia.