“I’m with the New York Times, Nobody Likes You. I’m on Deadline. Care To Comment?”

MicrophoneIn my last blog, I talked about the benefits of presenting a contrarian viewpoint when proactive pitching. What happens when a reporter calls you with a story he/she is doing and it isn’t…how should I say, the best story.

In my current position I act as my company spokesperson. Couple of years ago I received a call from a reporter. They were running a segment later that day about how “nobody” uses my product anymore and wanted a comment from me. Couple of things:

  •  Really have to be careful with definitive words – – nobody, everyone, etc. Really? Nobody uses it? In this instance, some still use. Not as many as years ago, but some do.
  • “Love” it (need to get a sarcasm button on the keyboard) when the press call for an immediate comment on a story they are on deadline for – – my experience has shown most times (not always) the press already knows what they want you to say. They are looking for that contrarian viewpoint.

Now, just because the press reaches out to me doesn’t mean I have to respond. Well, it sort of does because – these days – the press will include the dreaded, “the company refused to comment” or “we reached out to the company but have not heard word back.”

I always try to get back to the press with some sort of response. May not be the response they are looking for – – there are situations where I do say, “I can’t talk to that for competitive or legal or security reasons” but they are answers and – most important, they are the truth.

What about my “nobody uses your product” example? Well, I could’ve given them the data supporting usage of the product, but since I asked some questions about the segment, I learned that they had interviewed consumers.

Didn’t think a corporate suit giving numbers was the answer. Thought it would sound too cold and calculated, compared to consumer real-life experiences. Instead, I asked if they would talk to a local business owner who relies heavily on my product. The strategy was to counter those real people with another real person.

The reporter agreed and I quickly found the right person. Completed the story for (or dare I say with) the press.

And I think that is the key, whenever possible work with the media. Understand what they are looking for and accommodate as best you can. Any thoughts? Please let me know.

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