When it comes to media and influencer relations, you know you need to relinquish some control of the narrative throughout the process. However, for most brands, controlling the narrative – the brand story that is being told – is too important to overlook.

While you need to give up some control of your story when you ask someone else to tell it, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your messaging and brand story stay true to what you intended.

Keep Your Pitch Clear and Concise

Really – get to the point. It is very easy for things to get lost in translation, especially if you are communicating via email.

When you are reaching out to media, outline what the story angle might be. Don’t add a bunch of extra wording, data, and information that has nothing to do with the story you want to tell. Your big words and numbers won’t impress, they will confuse. State your story angle (the hook) and give a few supporting details that tie into your brand. Keep it simple

Provide Thorough and Timely Information

It can be a hard pill to swallow, but often, if the media “gets it wrong” it could be because they didn’t get enough from you or you didn’t do some key legwork leading up to the interview. Once they decide to cover your story, they have to do a lot of research to find information. Why not point them in the right direction?

  • After confirming coverage, provide them with supporting materials as necessary. This could be in the form of images, video footage, Fact sheets, etc.
  • Provide digital details – this makes their search easier. Clearly state your website address and social media links.
  • Send links to relevant media coverage – use this sparingly. Other media don’t want to see that someone else has already written about the same topic, but you can use it as credible proof if you need writing or on-camera samples.

While providing information is great, you also have to consider timing. Don’t keep them waiting – if they ask for information, get it to them as soon as possible. Your media contact will appreciate that you respect their time (and deadlines) and they will be more likely to work with you again in the future.

Ask Questions

You should rarely be blindsided in an interview – or when you see the finished article or segment. When a journalist is interested in covering your story, make sure you understand what their angle is. Ask clarifying questions before you sit down with them or get on the phone for your interview. While most journalists wouldn’t want to burn a contact, there is a chance that a juicy story could be breaking at your expense. You should be aware of two things:

  • What is going on in your industry – the good and the bad. If there is any controversy, tread lightly because your comments could easily be taken out of context or misunderstood.
  • What is the journalist’s style – are they known for juicy exposés?

While a little research will take care of the above two things you should know, there are other questions you can ask to help you in controlling the narrative through media coverage.

  • Ask what the specific focus of the article or segment is on. Journalists are not usually out to get you, so have a conversation about what they are covering.
  • Ask what types of questions they will ask or if they have specific questions they would like to cover. This gives you a chance to gather your thoughts before you are interviewed – which can be especially valuable if you are stepping on air in front of a live audience. You may not always get this information. If that is the case, don’t panic, but create a Q&A document for yourself of questions you think they may ask based on the topic at hand.

You have worked hard to develop your brand story, so why not concern yourself with controlling the narrative when you ask others to tell it? While you can’t retain complete control, you can work better with the media so nothing gets lost in translation.

A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.

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