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Take What the Media Gives Your Utility

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In an ideal world, every pitch you make to the media is graciously accepted and acted upon, with the resulting favorable coverage fitting in perfectly with your utility’s marketing plans.

In real life, however, the results will be significantly different.

That’s why you should take what the media gives you.

Case in point: At my day job today, I met with a regular contact who’s always pitching something or other. His latest cause is a hospital fundraising event that will honor a couple local people.

It’s an OK pitch, so I told him we’d probably write an advance on the event in our issue appearing a few days before the fundraiser. That’s kind of standard operating procedure — if you write about an event too far in advance, everyone forgets about it by the time it actually rolls around.

Most people would be happy with the coverage, but this guy wasn’t, asking if we could write about the event earlier to help him sell tickets.

While he certainly had the right to ask for what he considered better coverage, you have to be careful not to offend/enjoy the journalist. I stopped just short of telling the guy that I didn’t work for him and was not part of his public relations team, so I didn’t have to cover the event at all.

If you’re disappointed by the potential coverage you’re going to get, make the most of it. Make the experience as easy as possible for the journalist. Without being a pest, provide background information, good visuals and access to key figures in the story. Respond immediately to requests and make every effort to fulfill them.

Most of all, be gracious. Journalism and public relations should be a two-way street. If you help out a journalist, they’re likely to remember that the next time you work together and give you the benefit of the doubt.

I have an informal list of the 10 most annoying PR people I deal with on a regular basis. Believe me, you don’t want to be on that list, of some variation thereof, with the journalists who cover your utility

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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