Today, we have another guest post, this time from Emmy award winning journalist, Mark Joyella. Mark talks about how the changes in media mean more opportunities for us business owners to connect with journalists. He also gives us tips on how to approach journalists online. Enjoy!
Not that long ago, there were two general classifications of reporters; those who worked in print (newspapers and magazines), and those who worked in broadcast (TV and radio). Once a reporter picked a path, they largely stayed on it through the end of their career.
Today, the categories have blurred beyond recognition—you’re likely to meet a newspaper reporter carrying a video camera today, and a television reporter who just wants to talk over the phone for a story he’s writing for the TV station’s website.
In a sense, today’s reporters do it all—they tell stories on traditional newscasts like the 6:00 news, and increasingly, they pump out information in small bites all day long on Facebook and Twitter.
How Media Is Changing The Way Reporters Work
It’s a fundamental change in what reporters do all day, and the short version is that reporters are working harder and doing a lot more different things than ever before. Friends of mine who have been TV reporters for decades find themselves learning late in their careers how to use their cell phones to snap a picture of a news event and file it via TwitPic in addition to their regular reporting.
Some love the new ways of telling stories, others hate it.
But all of the changes for reporters spell opportunities for small business owners who have previously found roadblocks and locked doors in efforts to get direct access to reporters who might choose a local business person for an interview—or a whole story.
Take Twitter and Facebook, for example. Before these social media sites existed, you’d never know what a reporter was doing all day until you saw their finished story—either on the evening news, or in the morning paper.
Today, by following or friending a local journalist, you’ll find a very valuable stream of updates each day, some of which will reveal to you what story the reporter is working on that day.
Why’s that valuable?
New Opportunities for You
Recently a reporter friend in Minneapolis went on Facebook and Twitter early in his workday to express frustration—he couldn’t find a supermarket willing to let him come by with his camera and get good video of produce for a story that night.
Imagine you work either as a supermarket manager or owner—or a produce wholesaler. Maybe you own a farm, or own the trucking company that transports produce to market. Maybe you make the crates that produce is packed in for shipping.
Whatever it may be, you have a connection to this story, and you have nothing to lose by responding to the reporter’s message with a short, simple: “Hey, I noticed you’re working on a story about produce—maybe we can help?”
That message will take all of four seconds to compose and send, and may reap huge rewards—if not with a camera crew coming by your business that day, then with the beginning of a relationship with a reporter who might be receptive down the road to doing a story on you.
How To Make The Most of It
I’d encourage small business owners to be very aware of what reporters who cover your town, city, or business are doing each day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get a sense of what they’re doing each day, who’s celebrating a birthday, and who’s got a new baby. Don’t go overboard sending messages, but rather, sit back and choose your moments wisely.
If you see something that says to you, “Hey, I’m connected to that story—maybe in a way the reporter might find interesting” you won’t be offending or insulting the reporter by giving them a heads up.
Remember, getting on TV doesn’t only mean finding that one time in five years when you or your business have something happening that’s so interesting or important that you yourself are the story.
Think beyond that—to the ways that you fit into other stories. That will happen far more often. If the story the news is covering is a jump in gas prices—and your business has a fleet of vehicles—believe me, you’re just the kind of local person the reporter wants to interview. You’re relevant.
Make sure whenever you reach out, that you’ll be ready to host a television or newspaper crew almost immediately. This is not long term planning type stuff.
But even a short mention of your business in a story has value for you—you can turn that around as a press clipping to send along to your clients, or to potential clients. It gives you an excellent reason to talk to people: “In case you missed it, we were on the news last night… here’s a link.”
So go friend and follow a few reporters and find out what they’re like. They’re working hard, under great time pressure, and someone who can offer a hand—and maybe a great story—well they’re going to like you a lot.
Got A Question for Mark?
Post a media question for Mark in the comments below, and he’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Mark Joyella is a five-time Emmy Award winning journalist who’s reported for television stations across the U.S., in cities like Miami and New York, and reported for newspapers including the New York Post. Mark currently works as TV Editor for Mediaite, and serves as a New York based contributing correspondent for Australia’s top-rated network program The Morning Show.
Mark also provides media training to individuals and corporate groups through his business, Standupkid.
Follow Mark on Twitter @standupkid.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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