As you learned in our last post, having a spokesperson who represents your company is critical. He or she embodies your mission, gives a personality to your company and serves as the face of your organization.

A good spokesperson helps build support for and trust in an organization. A bad spokesperson can do irreparable damage. Some executives are naturally great spokespeople but most of us have to work at it. This is the second in a four-part series aimed at helping you become a more effective spokesperson.

Why build relationships with news media?

Working with the media is an important step in your company’s communications plan. And no, the news media isn’t extinct. If anything, the fragmentation of media makes it more important than ever to develop strong relationships with journalists and a sophisticated strategy for interacting with them.

Daily newspaper circulation has shrunk but most of us still read news online. Traditional TV viewership is down but we’re watching more news video than ever on our phones, desktops, Rokus and Apple TVs. Terrestrial radio might be struggling but NPR, syndicated talk and podcasts are thriving.

If that weren’t enough to worry about, an increasing amount of news comes directly from us. Anyone with a smart phone can record and share what’s going on around them with friends, strangers, bloggers, and traditional newsrooms.

Bottom line, if want to be a good spokesperson, you need to be willing to tell your story and understand media members’ needs. If not, someone else will tell your story…and you may not like what they say.

Three ways to build relationships with news media

So we’re on the same page about the importance of working with the news media. But how should you do it? Here are three tips:

  1. Be a source – Reporters need expert sources. You’re a subject matter expert and can provide a necessary component for a story even if it’s not about you. Build relationships with reporters who cover your sector. By being proactive and managing your media presence, you can join the ongoing conversations about what you do.
  2. Be available – A 24-hour news cycle, along with social media, has created an environment where people expect news instantaneously. Reporters are under more pressure than ever to get stories together quickly. It’s important to remain accessible and respond to requests as soon as possible.
  3. Be trustworthy – Tip one plus tip two equals tip three (we’ll go ahead and assume that you represent yourself and your organization honestly). When you are seen as the expert source and are accessible to reporters, you build goodwill and trust with the media. When you educate the public on an issue and are transparent with your information, you build goodwill and trust with the audience. Both can reap dividends for your cause.

Every organization needs a media strategy and a spokesperson capable of executing it. It’s ok to not be a great natural spokesperson as long as you’re willing to work at it.

Want to find out more about becoming a better spokesperson? Email or call me – 317-749-0337.