What’s the buzz? Open up your social media or perk up your ears at the water cooler. The Zimmerman verdict, right? Before that? NSA alleged spy allegations. It’s all anyone can talk about online, at the grocery store, or at the DMV. So how can your association help the public interest situation with some information while getting your name into the news?
The first question to ask is, “Do I have anything to do with this news?” If not, that’s ok. You probably will eventually. News is fickle and it's almost always surprising which news stories make the headlines for weeks and capture the attention of the entire country. If you do have something to say about the most popular breaking news, the next question is, “How can I contribute?” Do you as an executive in your association have a unique insight or even an opinion not yet shared or explored thoroughly?
If you genuinely believe that you have a lot to contribute to the news story at hand, make some phone calls! Local news desks are often looking for new ways to tell a popular story and expand on it with new information. The worst that could happen is that you get a voice mail or an intern. When that happens, leave detailed information, but succinctly. Give your name and contact information with a quick rundown of what you have to offer.
So what do you have to offer? An expert interview, of course! If not you, volunteer a board member who is well-versed and eloquent and not afraid to be interviewed with his or her name. Make sure you have the members’ permission before you volunteer them, though! Also mention years of experience and tell your unique insight. Come at it from an angle of, “You may not have thought of this angle…” or “You mentioned this quickly but I think it’s worth expanding on…” Those are the phrases that can get a news desk’s attention.
Say the local paper or local news station wants to interview you. Then what? Well if you aren’t already, become an expert in everything you can about the story that's available. Read as much as possible. You’d hate to be thrown a curve ball and caught without a clue what the reporter is talking about. Make sure you pay attention to both facts (in the news) and public opinion (from conversations in person and on social media, not to mention comments on news stories and videos.) They’re both important!
After you or your member gives the interview, possibly the most important step in the whole procedure is to get press contacts and cards of people whom you can contact directly when you’re able to help out with a story again. There’s a much higher likelihood that they’ll remember to call you (now that they know you exist) but often newsrooms are so busy you will have to make the connection.
Of course this is a very simplified summary of the process. Depending on the story, it might not be as easy as calling the local TV station or newspaper and informing them of your expertise. Many times you may have to write a press release and circulate it by fax or a wire service. The benefits of landing an interview like this, however, will pay off for years. Not only will it lend a lot of legitimacy to your association’s brand in the community, but it will boost SEO and be a very attractive point to new potential members. Plus there’s the potential to be contacted for similar stories for years to come.
Good luck and happy news-ing!