Getting media coverage is hard, but it still has currency.
A positive story in the media, whether online or in print, spreads the messages that are important to you, builds your profile, and establishes you as an expert in your field.
As a business journalist for a decade and a half, I can tell you there are three crucial components to that will build your credibility as a source for journalists, and the first of these is courage.
Talking to journalists can be quite intimidating. They are busy, which means they can be abrupt. Only half of them are trustworthy (some would say I’m being generous), and it’s hard to judge which half you are dealing with. Journalists often focus on the negative, which is not what you and your business want to talk about.
It takes guts just to pick up the phone to a journalist, and too often, really clever people with great things to say simply don’t get to first base. They’d rather be ignored than risk being misrepresented.
I do understand the caution many people have about journalists. The media is still a powerful shaper of reputation and one false step can see your hard-won profile obliterated in the wink of an eye.
Of course, we don’t want to go there. Coming back from really bad press is damn near impossible.
But in my world, being misrepresented is better than being ignored. At least you are in the press – being visible is a big first step to profile building.
And you have started forming a relationship with a journalist. If they got you a bit wrong, that’s the start of a conversation.
However, maybe it was down to you that they got your message wrong. Why? You lacked the courage to say anything worth reporting.
In my experience, many interview subjects are unfocused in their responses, and interviews are often peppered with “no-go” subjects (such as revenue figures).
Even on issues of direct importance to my subjects – an entrepreneur on entrepreneurialism, for example — they often speak cautiously, without passion or conviction, and have nothing to add to the public conversation.
I understand. Labels hurt, and we do fear that if we are too strident in our views, we will draw criticism.
But I ask you, so what? Controversy builds profile because we like people who stand for something, even if we disagree with them.
If you want to build you media profile (and eliminate your advertising spend) address the issue of courage and consciously start getting close to the media.
Then you can be as famous as you want to be.
A Kim Kardashian with brains. A David Beckham with a cause.
There are two other elements to winning positive media profile – knowledge and exposure – which, together with courage, will build your credibility with journalists. I’ll go into more detail next week. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.