Saturday, March 30, 2013

10 Steps to Better Media Coverage for Your Association

Association executive Edward Segal, CAE, wrote today's guest post. He is CEO of the Marin Association of Realtors and the author of several exceptional books on public relations.
Associations face two important challenges in generating the publicity they want. First, it's impossible to know what stories every reporter, editor, or blogger is working on or may be planning. Second, if journalists don't know your organization exists, they'll never think to contact you for quotes or information for their stories.
Your association can quickly overcome these hurdles by becoming a resource to as many news outlets as possible. Here are 10 steps to help make that happen:
1.   Take stock and cast a wide net. Make a list of all the topics and issues in which your organization has knowledge, expertise, or information. With this list in hand, identify the news organizations, as well as Websites and blogs, that follow or might have an interest in these matters. To ensure you haven't missed anyone, conduct a search of relevant keywords and phrases in Google's Web, blog, and news categories.
2.    Initiate contact. Send emails to appropriate contacts at these outlets to tell them about the topics and issues in which your organization has expertise. Explain that your association wants to be a resource for their stories in these areas, and ask how you can be of help in upcoming articles.
3.    Stay in touch. Reach out to these reporters on a regular basis. By staying on their radar, journalists are more likely to think of you when they need you. But don't become a pest.
4.    Alert yourself. Set up Google Alert for the topics and issues for which you'd like to generate additional publicity for your organization. Evaluate the results and, as appropriate, contact the editors, reporters, and bloggers to offer your organization as a resource on future stories. If you contact them quickly enough and have something to contribute, they might include you in updates to those stories.
5.    Cast an even wider net. Join one or more online services that provide subscribers with inquiries from journalists, or help link experts with reporters. These sites include Help a Reporter Out, Muck Rack, PR Newswire's ProfNet, The Yearbook of Experts, and Radio-TV Interview Report.
6.    Don't wait. Respond immediately to all media inquiries. Whether reporters are on deadline or not, the sooner you get back to them, the more likely it is that you will have an opportunity to be a resource. Given the competition organizations face for publicity and the deadlines under which reporters work, the expiration dates of these opportunities may be very short.  
7.    Give good quotes. Journalists can be inclined to interview people who have demonstrated that they can give good quotes. When reporters see you've been interviewed by other news organizations, they may seek to contact you for interviews for their own stories. Consider your sound bites to be auditions that can lead to additional publicity opportunities.  
8.   Get a room. Establish a "press room" page on your Website. Make it as easy as possible for visiting journalists and bloggers to immediately see your association's areas of knowledge and expertise and how to contact designated spokespeople. Keep press materials current and ensure that links to news stories where your organization is mentioned are working.
9.    Plan ahead. News organizations may post editorial calendars on their Websites, or will be glad to send them to you on request. The calendars can be an early warning system about future stories: armed with this advance notice, you might be able to position your organization as a resource to the reporter or editor and wind up with more coverage for your association.
10.  Be patient. Providing journalists with whom you've had no prior dealings with tips and information for their stories can be an investment in time and resources. Sometimes the payoff will be immediate, such as a quote, attribution, or profile. At other times, your efforts may take some time to bear fruit. But if you don't try, the payoff will be zero.
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