Make it Easy for Journalists to Interview You
Being readily available to the media is key to getting quoted in an article or column, especially given that most journalists have short deadlines. So, make it easy for journalists to interview you. They are not going to chase you down!
Despite this PR basic, I often hear journalists complain about how difficult it can be to reach the people they want to talk to. And given that they don’t have a lot of time to try to reach that person, more often than not they move on to someone else. Recently for example, a columnist who writes for a well-trafficked web site, told me how frustrated she had become when she could not reach an attorney she wanted to quote in a column that would be posted on the site later that day despite calling him at several different numbers and leaving him a number of messages. In the end, she interviewed another attorney instead, which meant that her first choice for the interview missed out on an opportunity to be quoted in what turned out to be a highly read column.
Making yourself readily available to the media is not difficult to do. It’s simply a matter of establishing some straightforward protocols. Here are some simple suggestions:
• Leave an alternative number on your office voice mail recorded message that the media can use to reach you when you are out of the office. This might be your cell phone number and/or your assistant's number,for example.
• Make sure that your email signature includes all of your contact information. Do the same on your web site.
• Check your voice mail and email messages regularly. Promptly return any that are from the media.
• If you have a receptionist or an assistant, train that person to respond appropriately when someone from the media calls for you. For example, ask them to:
-- Take down the journalist's name and contact information
-- Find out who the journalist is writing for and what the journalist wants to talk to you about
-- Ask for the journalist’s deadline
-- Contact you immediately to share all of this information with you so you can contact the journalist on a timely basis.
A final word of advice. If you can’t help a journalist, always try to put him or her in touch with someone who can. Not only will you save the journalist time, but you will also build goodwill with the journalist and as a result, you’ll probably hear from that journalist again.
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