A few days ago during lunch,
a business-owner friend needed some advice. A freelance
journalist had approached her about doing an interview
for a local magazine. Not having very much experience
in working with the media, naturally she felt a bit reluctant,
as she wanted to make the right decision in promoting
her company. She wondered if she should decline the offer.
My advice regarding her dilemma would apply to any small-business
owner who found themselves in a similar situation: "Take
caution but do the interview."
When it comes to working with freelance reporters, most
business owners probably have some reservations - mainly
because they may wonder if the freelance reporter is real.
It's a legitimate concern, I guess, given the fact that
some businesses will go to great lengths to access competitive
data and gain market advantage - even using unscrupulous
business practices to do so. It's no wonder that some
business owners may worry that a freelance reporter requesting
an impromptu interview could turn out to be a "company
The fact of the matter is that most freelance reporters
are experienced, talented and ethical professionals. The
simplest way to allay this fear is to simply check out
the reporter. Ask the freelance reporter to supply samples
of his or her published work. Going one step further,
contact the media outlet the reporter represents for verification.
If the freelance reporter working for an established media
outlet contacts you via e-mail, they will properly introduce
themselves and likely will use the media company's e-mail
address. Finally, prepare
for the interview just as you would with any other
Moving beyond the concerns, working with freelance reporters
can present winning opportunities for business owners.
Here are five good reasons to work with a freelance reporter:
To build a long-lasting relationship with members
of the media
To collaborate with the media in telling your company
story to the public
To increase the chances of your story being syndicated
across other media outlets
To conduct longer interviews so that the reporter
can gain intimate knowledge of a subject matter
- To gain a media insider - someone who can help you
transform a great idea in a great story
While working on stories in the past, freelance reporters
have told me exactly the angles needed so that the stories
would be interesting to their readers. The freelance reporters
were straight with me, and in doing so, showed me how
to flush out the ideas so that I would have a better story
to tell. Advice like that from media insiders are gifts
because they help you hone your pitching skills so that
you can present your company in a way that would make
a great story.
In the end my friend did go through with the interview,
and guess what? Her interview is scheduled to appear in
the magazine later this spring. She's happy to have done
the interview now because it gave her a better understanding
of the types of news angles most journalists like.
The point that I'm trying to make is this. Working with
a freelance reporter should not be viewed as only a cautious
risk, but also as a tremendous opportunity to build a
relationship with members of the media. When putting deals
together in business, the most successful ones occur because
there's a win/win opportunity for all parties involved.
Don't miss out on creating a winning relationship with
a freelance reporter.
you have a media relations question? Ask
Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming
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