Tuesday 26 June 2018

At the latest East Midlands PM Forum event, which was hosted by Grant Thornton in Nottingham, Lauren Mills, former journalist and senior PR consultant at V Formation, ran an informative session on how to deal effectively with the media and how to maximise your chances of getting your stories covered.

Lauren kicked off the session by sharing some of the things that journalists are up against, including:

  • Deadlines
  • Pressure to generate ‘clicks’
  • The increasing amount of stories that are shared with them

After setting the scene, Lauren went on to share some insights into what makes a good story. For business related press, journalists are particularly interested in numbers, winners and losers, conflict and controversy and some of the more quirky pieces that are a little different from the usual stuff.

Lauren also suggested using the ‘so what test’ to try and avoid the usual pitfalls of stories being too obvious to mention, not enough outcome or sharing news that isn’t really news!

It’s also advisable to take time to get to know your target media and build a relationship with them. This approach allows you to get an understanding of the sort of stories that they are interested in and their style. Lauren stressed not be put off if they appear rude, this is most likely because they are under pressure.

When liaising with the media Lauren shared some useful tips of what not to do. These included:

  • Lying
  • Exaggerating
  • Bombarding them with press releases
  • Sending them stories that aren’t relevant for their readership
  • Pestering

As well as ensuring that marketing and PR teams liaise effectively with the media, it’s also important that partners and other members of staff, who may be interviewed by the media, are adequately prepared. To help with this Lauren shared some tips on preparing for media interviews and emphasised the importance of keeping it focused, with no more than three key messages.

Lauren also provided some useful pointers on dealing with difficult questions and some common tricks journalists use to get the answers that they are looking for. Her tips included not reacting to speculation or rumours, don’t over promise and don’t feel you have to answer every question. The key takeaway was to always be on your guard.

Finally, Lauren stressed the importance of ensuring those who act as spokespeople and expected to provide comments to the press, should be given media training to ensure they are able to confidently handle media interviews and maximise the opportunity.

Overall, Lauren provided an extremely informative session, with lots of useful tips and tools for the group to take away.

Written by Jemma Taylor-Smith
Marketing Consultant, V Formation