Sweat the small stuff: Little things that matter in a big way in media relations
We all do it. Instead of focusing on the big picture, the most pertinent issues, we focus on small details when developing our opinions. Take, for instance, the presidential election. How many stories have you read about the minutiae of the campaigns—what Ann Romney wore, one comment Obama made, the exercise habits of candidates? While some of these give important pieces of information in an overall context of evaluating candidates’ personas, we often develop entire impressions of candidates based on those little things. The bigger issues—taxes, Medicare, international affairs—can take a back seat in the court of public opinion.
We’re all guilty of formulating our opinions this way. It’s these little “impressionary” things that can impact how we vote, who we’ll defend, and how much we donate.
What does this mean for those in the PR business who are managing other public officials and executives in the private sector? We should take a cue from the presidential candidates (or the lessons they’ve learned), and focus more on the little things when developing relationships with the outside world.
As public relations professionals, we’re focused on helping our clients develop meaningful relationships with the media. Often, when planning press interviews, we coach clients on the “big picture” items:
- What are the major points to get across?
- How should they answer tricky questions?
- Is there anything to avoid altogether?
Yes, these are critical points. But, taking a lesson from the presidential race, we should also focus on the little things that can derail an interview (and therefore the reporter’s impression of our clients):
- Are the PR contact and spokesperson available in a reasonable timeframe?
- Does everyone show up on time?
- Is the spokesperson prepared?
- Is there a clear comfort level with the topic?
- Do they listen closely to the reporter’s questions and stay on point?
- Are the answers succinct?
These small things can make the difference between a mutually beneficial relationship with a reporter and one that ends after the interview.
What other little things would you add to this list when dealing with the media?
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