“The great charm of fly-fishing is that we are always learning.” – Theodore Gordon
Catching a journalist’s eye is a lot like fly-fishing for coverage. You have to be willing to wade in the murky water and be consistent when you get a bite. And just as fly-fishers are always learning, so will you each time you successfully catch a journalist on your line.
For your company’s part, keep your lure the same and you keep it simple. It takes patience and finesse to attract the press and keep them on the line once you’ve captured their attention.
And just as you would know the tide and temperature for the optimal fly-fishing, you must also learn the best way to work with journalists once you feel that small tug.
A common mistake in relating to journalists is to view them as “copywriters” for your company news. They’re not your copywriter and they take the integrity of their stories very seriously as do their editors.
Oftentimes PR folks think they can tell a journalist how to write a story, but this is a mistake. Journalists know what angle they’re going to use with the story, sometimes even before they’ve contacted the company. The key is to listen to what the journalist is asking you and always respond consistently. Your line gets tugged and you tug a bit back. You respond to the questions with real numbers and real information. Don’t say, “We’re the leading "?¦” Say, “Here is how our company differentiates itself from our competitors.” Don’t be afraid to tout what your company really does!
Let the interview flow as a conversation would, with the natural ebbs and pauses that all of us have during a normal conversation. Don’t be stiff-lipped and don’t lecture or tech talk the journalist. If they don’t understand what you’re saying, how are they going to write about it and more importantly, how is their readership going to understand it?
Don’t answer a question that you don’t know the answer to and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t have those numbers, can I email them to you?” Always highlight the benefits of your company and how it is impacting its market arena.
You will find as you engage your journey of angling for the press that it involves standing mid-stream with your best lures and waiting patiently for your company line to be tugged. Remember, if you’re patient enough and know your market waters, the journalists will come.