The Doe Discuss Talking to the Press

Media mishaps are embarrassing and can cause damage to your business.  The mainstream media can’t be completely trusted and stories are altered and doctored all the time.

This is why alternative news outlets such as The Doe have become increasingly popular. The Doe wins people’s trust by providing an anonymous, verified and trusted news story each week to people’s inbox on some of the most challenging stories out there. They understand the issues with the press and how to deal with them. We asked them to help guide us and provide tips when creating this piece. 

Here are 5 guidelines entrepreneurs should use when talking to the media.  

1. What is your business’ story?  Understand the answers to the following questions:

  • What are three ways that tell why your business matters?
  • What are three ways that your business is different than other similar businesses?  Do you have any proof?
  • How does your business help its customers?  Write two or three different ways your business solves problems for its customers.  
  • After you have answered these questions, find a trusted advisor who understands your business market, and ask them for their honest reaction.  This will create a story that will catch others attention. This is what you should be talking about in every single interview.

2. Know your media.  Think about finding or identifying five media outlets that cater to your business’ audience.  Find out what reporters cover businesses similar to yours. Read and research about them. Write a letter to them asking if they would be interested in your story.  It is a good idea to start small and simple. You may only get one chance with NBC News, don’t blow it when you are not ready.  

If someone from the media contacts you asking to provide further context on a piece they are working on, be sure to ask them what exactly they are covering, what their story is about, and what the piece’s angle will be.  Ask them when the piece is due. Don’t answer too quickly. It is not considered rude to ask for some time to think about your answers. For anonymous articles, putting forward points of view with anonymity, The Doe is a great place to start.

3. Think about what messages you would like to get to your customers.  Prior to any press interview, think of three messages that you want to get to your audience and plan your talking points around these messages.  Every single thing you say should affirm these messages. These messages should support your business story.  Make these messages short, quotable, and memorable.  Have data, examples, and stories readily available to support these messages.  Try to not talk too much as it is difficult for a reporter to follow what you are saying.

4. Be careful not to say anything you don’t want to see in print.  If you say the wrong thing it could negatively affect your business, your employees, your customers, and even your investors.  Avoid talking badly about your competitors and never comment on rumours.  Also, do not talk about events that haven’t occurred.  For instance, if a partnership agreement hasn’t been signed, it should not be discussed.  Remember, there really is no such thing as “off the record.” If you don’t want something printed, simply do not talk about it.  

5. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes.  Remember, reporters must work quickly, and if they feel like they are wasting their time for any reason, they probably will not call you again.  Offer to be helpful to them. Always do what you say you are going to do. If you promise to call them back, make sure you actually do. If you give the reporter a reference, be sure to call that person and confirm they are willing to speak with.  Create a two-sided relationship with the reported and address their needs as well as yours. A successful relationship is essential to a positive media experience.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.