Participate in the Process
January 14, 2021
Growing up in a small town, it was exciting to see my friends and me pictured in the local newspaper. Our little league baseball teams, school events, and community news often made the paper, and my mom would snip and save everything.
Today, it’s often a different story. Most adults try to avoid reporters, especially if they find themselves (or their employers) in the middle of controversy or challenging times. If this is you, we believe there’s a better way to handle the situation – by running toward the media.
At Wixted & Company, we tell our clients to embrace every opportunity to tell their stories. Any news story about you is better with you in it. Saying yes to a media request and participating in the process gives your organization the chance to help shape the reporter’s story.
News stories often come down to simple math. A newspaper reporter writes a certain number of column inches, while radio and television reporters typically tell their stories in 75 seconds or less. What happens when your company says no to an interview request? For a story involving conflict, you’ve just given more inches or time to those on the other side of the issue.
It’s not easy. And talking to a reporter won’t guarantee that you will turn a negative issue into a positive one. But by participating in the process, your voice is heard, and your perspective is seen.
So our advice is this – if you’re asked to do an interview, take part. And even before a story (or a crisis) comes to your doorstep, reach out to your local media. Tell your story proactively. Build equity with reporters by letting them know who you are and what you do in case negative news comes to light.
Lastly, don’t let negative feelings you may have about the national news media prevent you from participating in the process. Chances are incredibly slim that Anderson Cooper or Sean Hannity will ever show up at your door wanting to interview you. Instead, you will be talking to local reporters, who in most cases are hard-working folks who want to get the story right.
Let the team at Wixted & Company help you prepare for that next important media interview.
By: Jeff Johnson
Jeff is a former television anchor and reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates in the Midwest. In those roles, Jeff has covered state and national events, including the World Series and the NCAA Basketball Tournament. He has interviewed former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, football great Walter Payton, and baseball legend Bob Feller. Jeff has produced and directed for the Kansas City Royals, Iowa State University, and the PGA Tour. Jeff earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University, and he minored in Psychology.