You may have heard Steve on NPR yesterday (Progressives Ask: Is It Obama, Or Is It Us?). Some folks have been asking how we "scored" that interview. The fact is, we didn't. What we did do, rather deliberately, was be in the right place at the right time.
One of the many reasons we came to the America's Future Now conference was exposure. We wanted to get Steve's education ideas to a broader, like-minded audience so we could not only spread the word, but test messaging in a real-world setting. Another part of the exposure equation was chatting informally with media covering the event. The goal wasn't to get them to cover our issues, but to make personal contact and build relationships.
We sat at a table near the media gallery in the cavernous ballroom. I saw Andrea Seabrook there on our way to lunch. I couldn't see her name tag, so I had no idea who she was, but that wasn't the point. We made eye contact and I smiled at her. That was it. As soon as we got back to our table, Steve and I started talking about the conference so far and who comes by but Ms. Seabrook (who is very nice, by the way). An interview was born!
Now, I'm not suggesting that you attend conferences with a smile on your face as your sole media relations strategy. But in the crap shoot world of getting reporters' attention, I will tell you that little things like positioning yourself near the press room or the media gallery, acknowledging without pandering, and looking like a pleasant, open person with something to say doesn't hurt. Of course, it's not enough to get a reporter to talk to you. You need to have relevant, thoughtful and clear things to say if you want to make it into the story. Lucky for me, my "client" is cogent and concise.
Even though the topic wasn't education, we considered this a huge win. It got Steve's name out on the national airwaves aligned with people who are invested in our core issues. We noticed a rise in hits to his site, a boatload of emails from people who heard him, and increased Twitter activity even though the company name wasn't mentioned (his working is education was, however). Most importantly, perhaps, we developed a relationship with a reporter at a national media outlet.
What are you doing to help the media find you? What's your plan for building relationships? How are you preparing for having a microphone or reporter's notebook shoved in your face? If you're not sure, contact me. We can help you develop strategies and get training to increase your odds of making it into the media for the right reasons!