This article was originally published on January 28th, 2011. And after doing months of press for Networking in the 21st Century, it has proved invaluable!
It seems that Good Press is the holy grail that every company and organization is chasing after these days. From the the biggest multi-national corporation to the newest one-person start-up, everyone is looking for that elusive media fix. Because of that, there is an overabundance of books/articles/websites that all promise to share their “secret” to getting media attention (most of them extolling the virtue of their particular style of press release writing). Mark Mathis’s Feeding the Media Beast is quite a bit different. Mark explains what is going on in the minds of the journalists, and after reading it, you understand the challenges they are facing. With that information, it makes it much easier to interact with the media because you understand their point of view.
Ideas, Implications, and Questions
- I love Feeding the Media Beast because at it’s heart, it’s a sales book, not a PR book. Mark paints a vivid picture of the dynamics within the media industry, and in doing so, shows how to approach the individuals within the media. As any good salesperson knows, the key to a sale is solving a prospect’s pain. Mark does a great job of pointing out where a journalist’s pain points are; so when looking for press attention, it’s simply a matter of solving those problems.
- Mark writes that the average reporter is handicapped, hungry, human, and harried. (pg 11) They are constantly looking for news and ideas, and they never have the time or resources that they would like. If you can find ways to solve their problems, the journalists will give you the attention and the press you are looking for.
- Mark outlines 12 rules to working with the media. It’s worth reading the book to find out the specifics of each rule, but here’s the list:
- In communicating your message, you have to keep it simple because you have to convey it to another person (the journalist) who then has to convey it to another person (the public). Mark points out that interviews are not conversations, and follow different rules. The most important thing to remember in the interview is repetition. You have to emphasize the one or two messages that you really want to convey – you want to make it as easy for the journalist as you can. This is very different from how most of us were taught to converse so remember that in your next interview.
- In the end, journalists are looking for something that stands out from the rest – that feels like news (whether or not it actually is). When looking for an angle, try to find a hook that is new or different; that will catch the journalists attention because they know that will catch their audience’s attention. And remember, when in doubt, reporters prefer the emotional to the factual. (pg 57)
Should you read this book? Who should read this book?
If you interact with the media at all, reading through Feeding the Media Beast is a great use of your time. If you are responsible for getting media attention, whether as an entrepreneur or as part of a larger organization, then it will help you develop a tactical plan for working with journalists to get that attention.