An organization recently contacted us for media training. They felt their chief executive and others in the leadership staff could do a much better job in interviews if they had the appropriate help.
That’s great. At Ceisler Media, we regularly conduct media training for our clients. But as I talked to the folks in the organization – not one of our regular clients -- and explored their media coverage, I noticed almost all of their stories were reactive. They were always responding to calls from reporters.
When I asked about their proactive media plan they said, “We really don’t do that.”
You really don’t do that?
Sometimes it just takes one great story or positive op-ed to make people remember you as a successful firm. It’s also great for employees’ morale and pride to see an upbeat story about their workplace.
Yet so many organizations are reluctant to engage.
An even more compelling benefit to this proactive strategy is that it builds relationships with media outlets. If your organization runs into a negative situation you have a better shot at getting more of the benefit of the doubt if the media outlet already knows of your good work and credibility. By not being proactive you may be putting your company at risk if an unfortunate incident or event happens.
It’s important to mention here some organizations have good reason to avoid the limelight. They don’t need or want a public profile. A good example might be a consulting firm that services government agencies. In cases like those, you want the government entity and not your firm to get all the credit for their actions. These companies prefer to remain invisible to the general public and communicate only directly to clients. But for most companies, proactive positive media coverage can be more valuable than advertising.
The organization I mentioned that asked for the media training relies on donations and grants to partially fund its operations. Seeing them in news stories doing positive things can only help, right? The same is obviously true for private companies. If an organization is a good performer compared to its peers or makes positive contributions to society it just makes sense to let the world know.
I can tell you from experience that our clients tend to appreciate our service the most when they have a dilemma and ask us to jump in and mitigate the problem or damage. That’s understandable considering their reputation is at risk.
And yes, news media will almost always give a negative story heavier weight than a positive one. That’s the nature of it. But I can also say those clients who stay proactive build equity with media and the public – and that equity helps.
Whether you use an in-house communications resource or a firm like Ceisler Media, if you value your organization’s reputation, stop waiting for media to come to you. Get out there and tell your story.
Kirk Dorn is the Senior Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.