Media tips for SMEs – Five ways to get your big media opportunity perfect

Media exposure can be a powerful way of reaching your target audience, whether that is potential clients, investors or the general public (just ask Richard Branson). We have all heard stories of businesses skyrocketing overnight thanks to a successfully executed media opportunity.

However, as with anything, there are risks involved. Follow these five practical tips to ensure you leave nothing to chance.

1. Get media training

While media exposure can do wonders for a business, a poor media performance can be damaging to both your business and your personal profile, (not to mention embarrassing personally – your mates will never let you live it down.) Don’t take any chances by not being properly prepared.

Professional media training is well worth the investment as it will help you stay on message and enable you to keep your cool when tackling any tricky questions that may come up. A good media performance will also increase the likelihood of being invited back for future opportunities.

2. Prepare your workspace

Your surroundings say a great deal about yourself – and your business. Opening up your workplace to a journalist can be compared to bringing home a love interest for the first time. In the delicate early stages of the courtship you want to make the best impression possible. You spruce up the place beforehand, get any questionable books or DVDs out of view, and otherwise put your best face forward.

Similarly, when you invite the media “back to your place” ensure any confidential documents or correspondence is out of sight, staff are complying with all regulations and that your office is presented in a way that you would be comfortable with if a million people were watching. This includes clients, potential clients, sponsors, competitors and board members. Because there is every chance they will be.

3. Remember – there is no such thing as “off the record”

There is a big difference between being ‘friendly’ and being ‘a friend’. You may be flattered when a journalist compliments you on your achievements, your lovely office, or even your new shirt, but never mistake their congenial nature for friendship.

Don’t think it’s okay to confide in a journalist. A journalist is talking to you because it’s their job. Journalists are trained to sniff out good stories. And, by good stories, that sometimes means bad stories. While your media opportunity may be of a positive nature, journalists are always on the lookout for the next big headline.

Being a former journalist myself, I’m not saying reporters are bad people – just that they have a job to do – so remain professional. Your safest bet is to take it for granted that everything said in your interview will go to air.

4. Keep your staff in the loop and out of the way

A media opportunity can create a buzz around the office and give staff a welcome break from routine.

Most employees will feel proud to see the company getting positive media attention. However, the disruption may also leave some staff feeling unsettled. That’s why it’s important to keep your staff in the loop well ahead of time about any media opportunities that will be impacting them.

Also, make sure staff members not specifically required to take part in filming or photo opportunities are kept out of sight. This will ensure your media opportunity is not compromised in any way by rogue staff members.

5. Conduct a location/backlight audit

It is important to maximise this chance to get your name and branding out to your target audience.

Therefore, as soon as the media opportunity has been locked in, inspect any signage or banners that feature your company logo. If they are outdated or you don’t have any, organise to get some new ones made. These can come in handy as a backdrop for an on-camera interview and provide another opportunity to put your logo in front of your target audience.

You know your headquarters better than anyone. Conduct a location audit a few days before your media opportunity and take note of the spots which will provide the best backdrop for filming or photos. This will give you a chance to present your business in the best light and save you from scrambling around looking for suitable locations at the last minute.

Sonja Viduka is a former journalist and is now the director of SoVi Communications.


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