Do You Bully Media Contacts?

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E-Bullying is in the news and it made me think. Do you bully media friends? How do I know e-bullying is a hot news topic? We got the topic and our client (an adult bullying expert) in USA Today last Friday. Read the article. So do you? I’m sure you’ll say, “I never bully my media friends?!?!” Well, let’s take a look and see. We’ve been doing media relations for more than two decades. I still get clients who say, “Find out from that reporter when that story is going to run. Geez, we’ve only sent them tons of pitches and angles. Why the heck aren’t they writing about me? I’m so tired of waiting.” What’s wrong with that, you ask? After all, they have been waiting. Well, let’s look at another common stance business people take with the media. “This is the most important piece of information ever. You (media people) are stupid if you don’t cover this with your viewers, readers and listeners.” And my favorite through the years, “I have no competition. That’s why that TV host would want to have me on her show. There’s no one like me. Tell her that when you pitch me as an expert source.”

What’s the common thread? I’m sure many of you are reading this, thinking, well, that’s all true for me. Is it? See, the media is not in business to talk about you. I know, I know. It’s the hard truth and you may not want to hear that. I mean, after all your book was published just six months ago — that’s still news, right? Wrong. To think their job is to cover you, your news and if you think you have no competition, then you might be a media bully. I say this because if you begin your media relations with your communications being “all about you” you’re actually “powering on” the media. Work with the media – not like you’re entitled to be covered. That’s just dominating the media relationship. Like a bully “powers on” his or her victims online or in person, the same dynamic can exist with media friends. They already have assignments from their bosses. Their readers, viewers and listeners impact what they write, broadcast and talk about. Not you. Not your news. Not your book — whenever it was, is or will be published.

Now, you might be lucky enough to reach them at the perfect time they’re seeking an expert on a topic they’re currently researching. This is the only reason to do media relations — so when they are seeking an expert in your industry, they think of you first! That’s what happened when I pitched Carol-Anne Steringa, adult bully expert, to this columnist. That’s why she was mentioned in the column. It’s all about timing and service. The columnist was already writing about work-place issues and thought, yes, I could use Carol-Anne’s insights on bullying; I was already thinking of doing that topic. We didn’t “bully” Andrea Kay into covering Carol-
Anne because of her expertise, tips, special reports and new website. We were polite in our emails and through the process, Andrea had many questions and requests for in-depth explanations. We were always happy to serve, be friendly and give her more no matter what. At no time did we ever get rude or expect her to cover or not cover our agenda. The relationship was mutually beneficial and a “win-win.” Never a power-on or dominating — making the other person wrong. In my 20+ years of doing PR, I’ve seen so many experts and sources get mad or angry with a media person for what or what they don’t do. Or, what they ask or don’t ask. Remember, with media it’s all about THEM not all about YOU. So, ask yourself. Did you lose your last earned editorial mention because you “powered-on” your media friend? If you’ve ever emailed something like, “Why didn’t you quote me this way or that?” Or, “Hey, why didn’t you get back to me — it’s been over three weeks.” Or, “I already answered that before, why are you asking me that again?” That’s being a bit of a media bully.

So, relax. The media doesn’t work for you. You serve them. Bullying won’t get you anywhere. So, have fun with your media friends and you might just be surprised you’re mentioned at all. Good luck. Good relations!

PS: One last thought: If you simply want to control your message, go purchase advertising. Don’t do earned media relations. Bullies can control their messages in advertising; never with editorial coverage. But you’re not a bully, now are you?

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