Leveraging Your Reputation: Remember that the media is savvy

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

A while ago, I went to a public relations conference where some television producers were speaking. They offered helpful advice about how to contact them, the types of guests they wanted, what their audiences were like and why they chose certain stories to cover. They also answered the audience’s questions and seemed friendly, so people approached them to talk.

After the presentation, a man walked up to one of them and handed her a package, trying to pitch his idea for her show. He seemed pushy, and I think such behavior was inappropriate for the situation. After all, they were just there to speak, but instead, at least one of them had to listen to the man as he tried to persuade her to give his client an opportunity.

I still think about that man’s behavior, especially since the media is changing and there are more ways to contact them, which makes it seem like the walls are totally down. However, it’s important to remember that there are still standards, and media professionals are just as smart as they were before. With social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn, contacting them seems to be more casual, but we shouldn’t forget that manners count, and the media is still savvy, no matter how easy communication seems to be.

For instance, people think that a fancy media kit will get media professionals’ attention, but if the content doesn’t fit what they’re talking or writing about, then it doesn’t matter how sparkly the package is; you won’t be able to convince them. Sometimes all it takes is an e-mail to make something work for you. I have met people who only use e-mails to contact the media and have been consistently successful because they are offering content that journalists or hosts are interested in.

Attorneys are highly educated, and while members of the media may not have the same types of degrees as lawyers do, they still have been exposed to a lot of information and people, and they know what they want and what would work for their audience. So if you hear a “no”, then it’s best to accept it and move on, and offer to be a resource for future stories. Your politeness and professionalism will go a long way, and they will be open to your connection in the future.

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