Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are you sure you want to reject that interview opportunity?

I've been hearing from journalist friends lately about "the one that got away" -- more specifically, the article sources who passed on interview requests because the national publications involved were "too small."

Um, Mr. or Ms. Well-Known Enough to be Considered but Not Exactly Famous Either, are you sure you want to do that? Do you really want to communicate to journalists who write for multiple publications that you are, as my little nephew would say, "specialer" than those who agreed to do interviews? Perhaps you don't know that the journalist you rejected today with the "your publication isn't important enough to me" explanation could be someone in a position to interview you for your dream media outlet next week, next month, or next year. You've burned a few bridges . . . and what did your mother tell you about that?

We all need to be conscious of how we use our time so that we put our energy where it will have the greatest impact on our businesses and careers. But I'm not sure this applies to interview requests from the press. You can find your biggest client through exposure in a small-circulation magazine or newsletter. You can also be discovered by your dream media outlet through interviews in local, regional, or niche publications or outlets. Publicity does beget publicity while arrogance with the press can, quite honestly, keep you from reaching your goals.

Think twice before turning down that next unexpected, "you're not on my target media list" interview opportunity. You won't know what you'll miss out on when you say, "No thanks," but when you respond with, "I'd be happy to talk to you," you'll discover more possibilities than you might imagine.

Did something good happen to you after you did an interview with a media outlet that wasn't on your target list?


Teri Coyne said...

Great post. Last year when the hardcover edition of my debut novel The Last Bridge was released I did an interview with my local paper. In addition to getting great local coverage, the journalist has taken an interest in my career, attends my local author events and has introduced me to valuable people in my community. Recently I attended a protest against offshore drilling, she not only mentioned me in the article, she ended it with a quote. When my paperback came out she contacted me for information. Very valuable experience!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Thanks, Teri -- great example! Sometimes those feature articles that run in your local newspaper get syndicated, too, allowing you to reach far more people with your message. You were smart to embrace the opportunity and make the most of it.

Anonymous said...

Great post Sandra.

I view media interview opportunities - no matter the size of the outlet - as building a strong foundation for future media appearances. Of course we all have lofty goals of a national interview in front of millions of viewers, but that interview with the local TV station in front of thousands of viewers can be a great opportunity to promote your product/service AND get some great 'on the set' experience for future interviews.

Secondarily, as Teri alluded to, you never know who will be in a position in the future to assist with furthering your career. Media members are chronic nomads, always moving around to different outlets. If you become a go to source for a topic and the media member moves to a larger market, you can leverage that contact and get your name out to a larger audience. Networking is key, not just in business to business environment, but in business to media too!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Exactly. TV talk show producers in particular move from show to show and take their favorite guests with them.

Marcia Layton Turner said...

Excellent advice, Sandy, as someone who is often looking for sources. I can remember one such situation, where I needed an expert in saving money on food for an article in Every Day with Rachael Ray. I found a woman who would have been perfect, but she didn't have time for me - or for Rachael, I should say. Since then I've had no fewer than four other articles in which I could have quoted her, but I didn't even bother to ask her, given the previous cold shoulder I received. I can't even estimate the value of the publicity she's lost out on. It's too bad, really.

Anonymous said...

Marcia - It seems your example is all too common across many industries. I claw and scratch media, both local and trade, to include my organization in editorial where applicable. I see it as a better investment of time than ad placement cost in many instances. I see editorial coverage as third-party endorsements - If someone else thinks we're important enough to include in a feature article, blog or interview - then we must be doing something right!

Ah well, preaching to the choir here! :)