Want Media Coverage? Offer Access

I’m pretty much smack dab in the middle of America as I write this post. I’m sitting in Nebraska, but I can see the bluffs of Western Iowa out of the airport gate window. Appropriate, I think, because the lesson I’m about to share should apply just about anywhere.

This morning, at a factory in Nebraska, a Tanner Friedman client and I hosted eight journalists in a small-to-medium market without ever using a press release. That’s right, we were able to attract interest from a variety of information outlets and get them to send reporters to gathering without ever sending a press release. How? Access.

If there’s one thing the traditional media still likes, even in fast-changing times, it’s access to people and places where their audiences can’t go on their own. It’s still part of journalists’ jobs to take their audiences inside the news – literally and figuratively.

Today, we hosted journalists inside what is typically a high-security, no access facility where products are manufactured that help to support the economy of the Plains states and others. We provided access, not only to the facility, but also an on-the-record question and answer session with experts (who don’t normally participate in media interviews) to provide expertise and insider knowledge. Journalists there today received news nuggets, photo opportunities and familiarity that will help them tell stories in the future. Our client was able to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

To get attention, it’s important to think differently. If your M.O. is limited to the following – write release, send out release, make follow up calls, expect coverage, complain about the lack of coverage, etc. – think about this – what kind of access are you offering? Create access to someplace newsworthy, to someone who has something newsworthy to say or to information that is worth an editor creating news space.