Be an excellent interview candidate

Being featured as an expert or a contributor in a news story is a great way to build credibility and set yourself or your company apart from the competition. Publicity helps you reach a wider audience and build your brand or name recognition.

But rather than wait for the media to call you, I recommend that you create a six- or 12-month strategic publicity plan.

Be ready and provide value

It’s important, however, to make sure you are interview ready before you send out your first press release. It’s very frustrating for a reporter, editor or producer to call a lead or respond to a tip and hear, “We’re not quite ready for interviews now. Can you call back next week?” Chances are, they never will. Being ready for an interview may be the most important aspect of your publicity plan.

You need to recognize that today’s media professionals are working in a very demanding and competitive environment. News and entertainment are now available 24 hours a day.

Remember that the position of the media is to offer compelling content to their readers, listeners and viewers. When you provide quality information that is of value to their audience, you make their job easier and increase your chance of media exposure.

Think about the newspaper, magazine, radio show or TV program where you’d like to be featured. What kind of content can you provide that will be of interest to their audience?

If you are a patent attorney, you can offer: “The biggest mistakes people make before applying for a patent.” If you’re in the energy business you can offer: “Seven simple ways to save energy this winter.”

Getting started

Make a list of 12 problems that you solve, or the biggest challenges of the readers, viewers and/or listeners of the media outlet you’re trying to reach. Once you have a list of the problems, write two to five simple solutions and you’ve created a helpful tip sheet.

Simple is key because most print stories are 500 to 600 words and TV or radio stories are 30 to 90 seconds. Your solutions should be easy to understand and attractive to a wide audience. Create 12 tip sheets and you have an entire year of content for your email newsletter, social media posts and press releases.

Also, when a reporter contacts you to comment on a story, take a moment to think about your already-created content. It may be possible for you or your staff to provide an instant statement from a past newsletter.

Provide additional resources

In addition to helpful content, you also want to provide access to:

  • Recent statistics or relevant studies.
  • Polls or other important supporting data.
  • High quality photos or videos.
  • A brief three-line bio of the key people in your company.

Think about ways for you to become a resource for the media. Begin making inquiries and you’ll be asked to contribute again and again.

How to create a press kit for your website

One simple way to attract media attention is to have a professional press kit available for download on your website. Even though you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money in order to do this, many midsize corporations don’t have this resource available.

A good press kit can attract publicity and help you stand out from your competition. There are just a few components you need to pull it together.

Updated professional photos

It’s very important to offer a professional headshot of every member on your leadership team.

Never skimp on photos. Have them updated every three years by a qualified photographer experienced in headshots. Ask for references and examples of their work.

Photo backgrounds should be media friendly. Avoid dark, brightly colored or distracting backdrops. Also, avoid extreme editing and retouches; you don’t want people to be surprised or confused when they compare your interview appearance to your headshot.

Professional bios

Your professional bio is very different from your resume. Don’t lead with your certifications or education. Instead begin with a simple sentence that positions you as an expert interview candidate.

When you write your bio, imagine the first few sentences being read aloud by a radio or TV announcer. Make sure that it is easy to read and understand.

Resources

What problems does your company solve? What important issues can your leadership team contribute during an interview? How is your company or organization an innovator or thought-leader compared to your competition?

An easy way to attract media attention is to offer a few (no more than five or six) helpful downloads such as tip sheets or recorded strategies.

It’s fine to have these appear on the resource page of your website as well as in your press kit. Professional media materials can also attract new customers.

Fact sheet

Imagine that a reporter has listened to you give a speech or read a tip sheet on the resource page of your website. Make it easy for them to quote you in their publication by allowing them to access this information without having to track you down.

Be sure to include company history, full contact information and your mission statement.

Suggested interview topics

This allows the media to find you easily and will give ideas of topics on which you are a subject matter expert. Be brief here and list no more than six topics that can be addressed by members of your leadership team.

Remember, to attract publicity you want to position your company as a valued resource that allows reporters, editors and producers to provide outstanding quality to their readers, listeners and viewers.

Like all aspects of your business, keep your media page updated and polished. Review your press kit regularly and make updates often.