Buying Journalists Gifts?

By Mark Macias

It’s a written rule and code of ethics in journalism that you can’t accept gifts in exchange for stories, but that doesn’t stop publicists from trying to secure media coverage through freebies.

When I was with NBC and CBS in New York, I was always invited to “free” press screenings for shows and concerts. Restaurants, lounges and bars also sent me private VIP invitations to their openings. Even our Special Projects unit  received unsolicited gifts from publicists to try out their products.

But is this an effective approach?

Here’s the inside media scoop on gift giving to journalists.

Every newsroom has a table full of toys, makeup, books and other products that are sent to reporters and producers.

I am of the belief that it’s a waste of money to send free samples to reporters because it will inevitably end up in the hands of a person who has no influence on whether that story will run.

As an Executive Producer with WNBC – overseeing the consumer and medical units – I can’t even recall the number of times I went to my work mailbox and saw a package or box with my name on it. Most of the times, I had no use for the make-up or toy or other product that was shipped to me.

But this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore a version of this strategy. You can still offer up a sample for the news organization to try, but be selective with it and most important – make sure you offer it to the right news contact.

And most important, don’t ever project that you are expecting something in return because that is the quickest way to get your story killed.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

How to Sell Your Story to the Media

By Mark Macias

The best salesman is always the person who is most passionate about his product. He’s the person who loves his product so much that his eyes come alive as he explains why there is no superior product. It’s no different with the media and selling your business to a reporter.

You need to be absolutely convinced that your story is newsworthy. If you have doubts, hold off on pitching the story until you are absolutely sold with the story angle.

How to Sell Your Story to the Media

In Journalism 101, students are taught the five W’s that help them identify the value of a story.

These bullet points help you identify why your story is newsworthy and what is important to communicate to reporters. Here’s a quick overview to help you identify your narrative.

WHO: Who is this story about? Who is the character in the center of the story?

WHAT: What is this story about? You will have more success with your media outreach if you identify the “what” because your idea will be more focused.

WHERE: This should be one of the easier W’s to identify. Where is this story taking place? Does the location have any value or importance in the community?

WHEN: Does your story have any timely components? Will your story take place on a single night or day? Is your story relevant at a certain time of the month? The timeliness increases your chances for coverage.

WHY: Why should anyone care about your story? The “why” could be the deciding factor that determines whether your story is pursued or killed. You need to communicate why consumers, readers or viewers care about your business.

By learning the answers to these questions, your story narrative will be more focused from the start, increasing your chances for coverage.

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

Publicity for my Business

By Mark Macias

A web TV show recently asked me to help promote their program with the mainstream media. I was flattered by the invitation, especially since the producers also have a media background and are theoretically “media experts” themselves.

Before I had a chance to say, “hmmm, I’m hungry,” they emailed me their press release, asking me what I thought.

I read it and squinched.

It was horrible.

Their press release had no focus, no narrative. It was an announcement for a show.

The mainstream media doesn’t want to do announcements. They get paid to tell stories.

Press Release 101

If you’re trying to get publicity for your small business, you need to focus the message and uncover the news peg before you send it out because you only get one chance with reporters.

Look for the controversy and exploit it. Or, position yourself as an expert.

And look to the future, not the past. In the case with that web program, the producers focused their release on a guest who appeared on their program a few weeks earlier. That’s not even an announcement. It’s old news.

So take your time to make sure the message is in place before you reach out to any reporters, or you risk losing any chance of getting publicity before you even start.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.