Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Media Owes You Nothing

By Guest Blogger Olalah Njenga, YellowWood Group, LLC
Courtesy of Olalah Njenga and Carolina Business Connection

Like it or not, nothing boosts business like a little publicity. Despite the swirl of information about how social media has changed business, social media doesn’t seem to quell the need for good old fashion publicity. Many of my clients understand that submitting a concept to the media does not mean it will be picked up. But every once in a while, a client will get annoyed when he/she sees a competitor being featured or quoted in a news story or publication. It is in those moments of angst I find myself gently reminding the client, like it or not, “the media owes you nothing”.

So what is a business professional to do when he/she wants to become a media darling and scoop up some well-deserved publicity? Answering that question has more to do with what not to do. Being relevant to the media requires a high level of consistency and tenacity; something that many people struggle to maintain. However, if you’re the type that likes to see things to the end, you’ll find these tips helpful as you navigate the media maze.

Don’t Get Caught Making These 5 Media Missteps:

#1 – Shopping your news to every media outlet.
It’s not uncommon for a reporter to ask you where else have you submitted your news story, if the reporter is mildly interested. If you have simply “shopped” your story to any and every available media outlet, you are not doing yourself any favors. Reporters are people. They want to feel like they are working a fresh story, not a story that has been tossed around (and sometimes tossed over) by other media sources.

#2 – Trying to disguise a sales pitch or ad as news.
Media folks are pretty savvy. They’ve seen a lot of things and they’ll quickly see through your cleverly disguised sales pitch. Do yourself a favor and stick to the story without the glossy embellishments. If a reporter wants more information, he/she will ask for it and most likely schedule a time for an interview.

#3 – Tooting your own horn. Loudly.
A little humility goes a long way, even in the eye of the media. Reporters are easily turned off by boastful rants and self-serving hyperbole. It is absolutely acceptable to share awards and achievements if they are relevant to the story concept, but a laundry list of “look how great I am” items is sure to get your story intentionally overlooked.

#4 – Ignoring lesser known media outlets.
We all want to be media darlings (Okay, most of us anyway). Who wouldn’t want to make the front cover of an industry publication, or be the featured expert on a major network’s special segment? On the road to national publicity, don’t discount the local media outlets and their corresponding social platforms. Your impetus to national media just might come via a small, hometown newspaper that no one has ever heard of. Before you ask . . . yes, it happens.

#5 – Believing that a 1 time mention is all that you need.
Eileen Batson, a local PR professional who provides publicity services for speakers, authors and entrepreneurs, and I, often marvel at the thinking many business professionals have when it comes to publicity. Despite how often we tell people that a one-time mention will not catapult their business to national stardom, people want to cleave to that expectation. I’m not saying that it can’t happen. I’m merely saying that it does not normally happen that way. For example, a Florida-based gift basket company got mentions through local and regional media fairly regularly. It wasn’t until a feature in the Wall Street Journal that she saw a significant boost in sales. When interviewed about her seemingly overnight success, she chuckled and said “It took three years to become that.”

Navigating the media maze for well-deserved publicity can be a rewarding experience and give your business or brand a boost that few other vehicles can offer. Respect the media professionals, rather local or national, and understand that it is their role to share stories and information that is relevant to their audience. The role of the media is not to make you a star, despite the fact that in many cases the impact can do just that. At the end of day, the simple truth is that the media owes you nothing and they make no apology for that fact.

About Olalah Njenga
Olalah Njenga is the CEO and Senior Marketing Strategist at YellowWood Group, a marketing firm that specializes in helping companies align marketing strategies with sales goals. She is also the creator of the Marketing With Ease™ System and the author of 37 What Were They Thinking Moments In Marketing. As a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), Olalah speaks nationally on business impacting topics, including strategic marketing, entrepreneurship, business planning, differentiation, social media and branding. In 2009, Olalah was honored as a Stevie® Awards Women In Business Finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category. Olalah sits on several advisory boards and serves as a volunteer counselor for SCORE. SCORE, the “Counselors of America’s Small Business Owners”, is a national association dedicated to helping small business owners form and grow their businesses.

Contact Information:
Olalah Njenga
YellowWood Group, LLC