Get the right message to the media

It’s your big day.

The grand opening of the project you’ve worked years to develop is ready for prime time.

The TV mobile vans are here. A business reporter from the local newspaper is on hand.  And you’re ready to go public.

But are you really ready?

More than once, entrepreneurs in this situation lament that the message(s) they thought they were sharing were never reported by the press.

Here are some simple steps to stay on point:

  • Make sure all regional media are invited.
  • Be observant and respectful of deadlines.
  • Anticipate and meet media needs.
  • Convey key messaging to media prior to the event, explaining the 5-W’s (who, what, where, why and when), and providing other relevant background.
  • Provide updated background to media at the event if applicable.
  • Make ample time for Q&A. Be honest, open and direct.
  • Be prepared for TV and/or radio interviews: Share information, use plain language, keep it simple and stay on message. Don’t speculate. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

The flip side of this is a factual incident that happened several years ago when a construction company owner called.

“One of our workers collapsed and died of a heart attack while on the job site,” he explained.

As bad as that was, the worse thing was that someone who witnessed the collapse called a local TV station and reported that the worker died as a result of an on-the-job accident.  Worse, the story was headed for the local 5 o’clock news.

“What do I do?” he queried.

In this case we gathered the facts; prepared background and a statement from the owner; and contacted the TV reporter assigned to the story.  Once the situation was explained, the story still made the evening news, but not as originally planned.  And more importantly, it was factual.