You determined your company’s news angle. You selected who on staff will speak to the media. But before you email or phone in your pitch, you must make yet another key decision: Where is this interview going to take place?
1. Avoid offices and conference rooms: They are boring. They normally in no way show off what separates you from other companies. If you own a factory, bring journalists to the factory floor. If you’re a doctor, conduct interviews in a patient room. If you run an auto shop, talk where the repairs take place. If you offer phone and internet services, bring me to the call center. If you’re a chef, cook up an interview in the kitchen. The more visual, the better. Reporters want to see the sights and hear the sounds. Give them action! If you don’t want to show the media what’s on the inside, then don’t contact the media. I turned down several good stories when companies tried to corner us into an office without showing us the real deal.
2. Stay busy: Don’t briefly shut down the factory floor or auto shop when journalists visit. Too often, businesses invited me over when nothing was going on and the person I interviewed had nothing to do. Don’t get all your work done just in time for a journalist’s visit. Save the work for his or her arrival.
3. Active interviews: You’ll really separate yourself by offering to provide an interview while working at the same time. Answer questions while repairing cars, treating patients, pulling levers or taking orders from customers. Walk and talk. Don’t make excuses! Don’t argue all this is disrupting business or customers. For every time people claimed they couldn’t show me their business in full swing, someone else in the same industry made it happen. How badly do you want the coverage and how badly do you want that coverage to be awesome?
4. Pick your quiet place: If your visual surroundings are simply too loud to conduct an interview, make prior arrangements to turn off just enough banging and clanking to practically conduct a conversation. Selecting a quiet spot among the chorus of sounds to sit or strand for the interview is another option. But noise is not an excuse to escape back into a conference room of plants and lame paintings.
5. No faking: Don’t offer to fake a working environment. Countless doctors who didn’t try to get a patient’s consent to be on TV instead asked me if a nurse could pretend to be a patient. You’re not making a movie. You’re telling a news story and the goal is to be genuine. Offering to fake something will immediately drop your worth with any journalist who appreciates the validity of his or her craft.
6. Pitch visuals: Include your visual ideas when pitching a journalist. Most people leave this aspect out of their pitches even though visuals and out of the ordinary interview settings are an excellent way to separate your story from the others.