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The eight deadly sins of communicating with media

Coming into our eighth year of advising experts on the best strategies when it comes to getting media, you’ll often hear us talk about what to do, rather than what not to do.

Our #MeetTheMedia program over the last five years has resulted in some outstanding intelligence from the media participants for anyone looking to communicate with the media. Media across television, newspaper, magazines, radio and online have given us the deadly sins of those approaching the media to get their voices heard. They have told us what annoys them, what will guarantee your story is never told and the small things that many brands get wrong.

Here’s the top eight deadly sins of communicating with media:

  1. Group emails – if you send a general release to everyone, it will generally be dismissed. The media loves an exclusive and something tailored to them and their audience. The media wants to feel special, not just part of a large group.
  2. Wrong name – Like anyone, when the media gets an email, they want their name spelt correctly. When I first heard this, and I have heard it many times from media, I thought ‘being a little precious aren’t we?’ Then again, I have never opened an email if they didn’t spell my name right!
  3. Wrong program – A fantastic media release, right name but wrong program or sector. This failure in attention to detail annoys the media, especially as it misses the mark with their audience.
  4. Hounding – This is a mortal sin. This causes issues for those brands that put their trust and faith in a PR who’s not working in their best interests. Many media block PRs due to incessant hounding and irrelevant content.
  5. Lack of follow-up – The complete opposite to hounding. Silence and no follow-up particularly if the content is time sensitive. If it is timely, and relevant to the audience, then it warrants a quick phone call or email.
  6. Not available – Media wants to do the story but the talent is away, not available or in meetings till 6pm. If you have something to say and have sent out the media release, keep diaries open and drop everything when media wants to engage with you.
  7. Hidden lede – Don’t bury the real story in the third or fourth paragraph. Put it in the headline and get straight to the point. There is no room or time for rambling. Smack the media over the head with your story.
  8. Audience – The greatest mistake by all that send any communication to media is the lack of understanding of who the audience of that media is. This is a sure sign of a lazy PR, brand or business that hasn’t done their research. Normally blocked.

The eight deadly media sins can easily be avoided if you know what they are. There are some media that will kindly explain why they didn’t go with a particular yarn but in most cases the media releases are just met with silence.

In this case, it’s the silence which is very damaging, much more than the a personal or business brand will ever know.

By Nic Hayes, Managing Director, Media Stable.

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