By Rusty Cawley
If you had to choose just one tactic above all others for gaining
consistent and positive attention from the news media, here is the
one you should choose: Get your name in the Rolodexes of the reporters
who can do you the most good.
Why? Because if you can position yourself as an informed, reliable,
interesting source of information, then you become a reporter's
You see, reporters must have "third-party experts" who
can provide commentary on the event or the issue that the news media
From the outside, this might seem an easy task. It isn't. Often,
a reporter is on deadline and is scrambling to find a third party.
You will often find reporters frantically surfing the Web or making
phone calls to find a third party who is informed and available.
Often reporters will ask their peers, "Do you know anyone who
knows anything about this?" If your name is in the Rolodex
of any of these reporters, then you win. You get the phone call.
You get the interview. You land the pithy quote in the news story
that will position you as an expert with the prospects you want
to make your customers.
But this will not happen spontaneously. You must get into those
Rolodexes. Here is the PR Rainmaker's method.
First, you must identify the reporters who can help you. These are
the reporters who are most likely to be read and to be trusted by
your future customers and clients. Some are reporters who cover
your industry for the mainstream media. Others are specialized columnists.
Still others are writing for the trade media that focus entirely
upon your business.
If you don't know who these folks are, then make it you business
now to find out. Ask your current customers whom they read and trust.
Odds are your future customers value the same reporters.
The quantity of names on your media list is not nearly as valuable
to you as the quality. Stick to reporters who reach the audiences
you want to reach.
Next, choose an issue for which you want to be known as an expert.
Don't start with what you know. Instead, isolate the issues that
reporters are covering and your audiences are reading. In other
words, sell what they are buying.
If you don't know the subject thoroughly, then educate yourself.
With the ready access to educational materials through the Internet,
you can become an expert on virtually any subject within a matter
of weeks. You simply must apply yourself.
Try to become an iconoclast. If everyone else is zigging, then you
should zag. Remember, the news media are attracted to the unusual.
If you are saying the same thing as 20 other experts, then what
good are you to a reporter? You don't want to be a crackpot. But
you do want to offer an opinion that is significantly different
than conventional thinking.
Once you have staked out your position, it is time to print Rolodex
cards that include your name, title, company, phone number (direct
dial, if possible), email, mailing address. Also, include a line
or two about your qualifications.
Above all, the card should say something like: "Expert in (fill
in the blank)." Don't include your position on the subject.
You don't want the reporter to jump to conclusions. Just market
yourself as an expert in a particular subject.
(Now, this doesn't mean your card should be say, for example, "Expert
in Accounting." That is far too broad. Instead, narrow the
focus enough to attract attention from the reporter, while keeping
in mind that the focus must match up with the audiences you want
For example, if you are a CPA who wants to attract phone calls from
law firms and companies engaged in legal disputes, you may want
your card to say: "Export in forensic accounting for civil
Print your Rolodex cards in at least two sizes, large and small.
Your printer can give you some guidance on the most popular sizes.
If you can afford it, include a tab on the top of the card that
announces your expertise. This tab will not only make it easy for
the reporter to find your card in a sea of cards, but also will
constantly remind the reporter of your presence in his file.
The next step is obvious: Get your cards out there. They do you
no good sitting in a drawer. Mail them out. Hand them out. Whatever
makes you comfortable. But get them into the hands of reporters
who can use them.
Copyright 2003 by W.O. Cawley Jr.
Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives,
entrepreneurs and professionals about news strategy. He is the author
of the popular free ebook "PR Rainmaker." To get your
copy of his latest free ebook, visit http://www.prrainmaker.com/prestigepr.html
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