I have spent more than half my life surrounded by journalists – either working as a reporter for Maclean’s or in public relations. I love TV news, magazines, newspapers and the online world of news and information. One of the challenges I have (and so does my family) is that when I go on vacation, I want to watch the local news shows to see how they do things, see what they find newsworthy and find out what they are all about. Sometimes that can make the people with me cranky. (“Come on, let’s go to the beach!”)
Working with journalists is one of the things I like best about my job. Reporters, editor, producers, videographers and others in the news business are incredibly interesting and informed. They are great people to stand beside at cocktail parties because they have the best stories and are usually up on what is happening in the community, nationally and around the world. At AHA, we have strong, positive relationships with the majority of journalists that we have worked with over the years. Even in a challenging situation when a client is dealing with an issue or a crisis, good journalists want to get the story, get it right and to do a good job. We always approach any interaction with a journalist with the assumption that they have integrity and ethics. We respect what they do. Having said that, it’s also important to understand that they have a job to do and that they aren’t being paid to get your message out. They don’t work for you.
When we provide media training for clients, we often talk about the different personality types of reporters and the different ways a journalist will ask a question. I recently read a great piece on Ragan.com about some different “types” of reporters; it’s worth a read.
The people that make their living asking questions are adept at getting answers – it’s their job and most of them are really good at it. They prepare for an interview and that’s why we believe our clients should also prepare when they agree to an interview. Working with the media can create positive outcomes, but not if you go into an interview unprepared. You wouldn’t go into any meeting unprepared and an interview is a very important meeting – one where what you say is recorded and printed or broadcast.
At AHA, we work with clients to make sure they are prepared. It’s about making the most of an opportunity to reach your target market.