Managing: The News Media
Inquiring Minds Want To Know
A primer for dealing with your local news media
Your phone rings. It's Savvy Reporter from your local newspaper
or television station wanting information or an interview. What
do you do? How do you respond? Does it really matter?
Yes, it certainly does matter how you handle the press. The
news media give a public face to your business free of charge.
Good publicity is priceless. Bad publicity is not only worthless,
it can end up costing you and your business dearly.
Dealing with the news media can be quite manageable. If you've
set up yourself or your store as the source to find answers,
chances are you already know the reporter and everything will
go more smoothly because of this.
How do you get to know your local news media and become known
as a source for good, accurate information? Next month in this
column, we'll show you some simple steps to begin your media-relations
career and help promote good publicity. Meanwhile, if news reporters
call before you've begun your goodwill campaign, keep reading!
Savvy Reporter Calling: Are You Ready?
1. The phone rings and you're on the spot. What do you
Take a deep breath and proceed slowly. Savvy Reporter may
be hurried, but you must be calm and professional to find out
what information is needed. Ask if there is a time later in the
day or early the next day when you can call back to discuss the
topic. Doing this will give you time to gather your wits as well
as your information so you're not caught unprepared.
Keep in mind your reporter is most likely working on a tight
deadline. You may not get the luxury of waiting a few hours or
until the next morning. But most reporters can wait at least
a short time for you to call back if you explain you're with
If your staff members answer the phone and you're not available,
make sure they know the drill. As always, they should be polite
and courteous. Direct them to get as much information as Savvy
Reporter will share (when is the best time to call back and what
subject the reporter has questions about, etc.). Then, as soon
as possible, return the call.
2. Get prepared.
The reporter may have questions on topics you're not well-versed
on. Gather information and have available any supporting literature
that will add further information. Know where to send the reporter
for more information with a contact name and phone numbers (see
box on p. 90). Keep handy any printed material to which you can
refer and then fax to the reporter at the conclusion of your
call. This includes articles from trade publications, trade organizations
or any other literature you might have. You might keep a media
file with articles on hot topics for this purpose.
3. Call back and do the interview.
You're now prepared, but you still shouldn't be afraid to
admit you're not sure of an answer. Don't panic. Know who/which
organizations in the industry handle which subjects. Call the
trade organization, verify the new information needed, then call
Savvy Reporter again with the update. Or give the reporter the
sources that may be helpful (see below).
General Media Tips
- Be friendly and helpful. But be on your guard. Most reporters
are professional, but there are those who may twist your words.
Be clear and concise.
- Stick to the point. Answer the questions asked and don't
wander from the reason the reporter called unless he or she invites
your additional comments.
- Remember this is a professional forum, not a personal one.
Don't get on your favorite soapbox stay focused on the
- Use this opportunity to promote our industry. You will look
professional. Refrain from personal comments about other jewelers.
By Caroline Stanley, Director of Marketing &
Communications, Jewelers of America
Caroline Stanley is a third-generation jeweler working as
director of marketing and communications for Jewelers of America
(call 800-223-0673 for membership information.) She also is a
past president of the Arkansas Jewelers Association, has worked
with Platinum Guild International and won a Women's Jewelry Association
Award of Excellence.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.