December 6th, 2016
Peace, Love, Journalism

The media hates us small business folks. They never contact me. They write about my competitors, but ignore me.”

I hear that a lot from small business people on a regular basis. I gently have to explain to them that for the most part, they are wrong.

In my 25 years-plus experience in media relations, I find most businesses get exactly the media coverage they deserve. Some folks expect a reporter to contact them and write a puff piece about how great their business is, how great an owner they are, and—of course— put it on the cover of the publication.

The reality is reporters receive several hundred of emails, letters, phone calls, news releases, etc. each week asking/begging/demanding editorial coverage. The vast majority of the solicitations are like junk mail and tossed into the circular file never to be seen again.
Keep in mind, media outlets—particularly newspapers–are reducing staff at an alarming rate.

There are fewer journalists and their beats are bigger than ever. It is a high-pressure environment.

Publicity doesn’t just happen. It takes work and effort. You have to know what is “news” and then you have to get reporters interested in your story. And no one can guarantee 100 percent positive results.

The reality is small businesses generally can’t afford to have a public relations staff. They have to either hire a media professional to help them get coverage or try and do it themselves.

While some small business folks are very successful generating their own publicity, most fail miserably.

When I talk about media coverage I am speaking about generating non-paid editorial coverage of a business. If you want your brand to be in the minds of consumers you need to have an integrated marketing approach that involves an advertising program combined with media relations efforts.

Advertising can be very effective. However, studies have shown editorial coverage to be considerably more valuable than advertising. Editorial coverage is a third-person endorsement that gives a business much more credibility than can frequently be achieved via advertising alone.

If you want coverage you have to know the media outlets who might be interested in your product/service and the editors/reporters at those outlets. You need to be able to get your message to them and get them interested in you. You also should realize those needs may vary depending on whether we are talking about newspapers, TV, radio, social media, etc.

Getting editorial coverage is similar to sales. Your goal is to “sell” the story of your business to a reporter in the hope of generating publicity. There are many similar comparisons:

  1. When you sell a product you target a potential buyer. The same is true with publicity. You target those reporters/publications that are aimed at your target audience.
  1. Selling involves discussing features and benefits. If you want a reporter to write about your business you need to highlight your firm’s unique features and benefits.
  1. Buyers often raise objections during the sales process. Reporters might also ask tough questions. You handle them the same as you would a sales objection.
  1. Being honest with customers is the best policy. The same is true with reporters.

Once you make connections with editors and reporters at the various news outlets you will soon realize the news media never really hated your business. Chances are they were simply not aware of it.

Leave a Reply


    It has been called “appalling journalism.”

    That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.

    Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).

    Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.

    Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece.  Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.

    In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began.  There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.

    Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).

    In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “my intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

    Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).

    However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).

    This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews.  Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.

    However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.


    Published May 29, 2016 at 8:30 am - 2 Comments It has been called “appalling journalism.” That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light. Long-time NBC Today Show star and ...


    In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.

    When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5.  However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.

    A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai,  who was working for ESPN and in a public place.   It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.

    A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site.  The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.

    What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.

    Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school.  However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.

    Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists.  Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.

    With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum.   Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.

    If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.

    The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty.  The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.

    A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.

    However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets.  That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.

    It’s a bad move.



    Published November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am - 5 Comments In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious. When rankings for the best ...