Journalists and senior living marketers looking for a little good PR have distinctly different jobs but they can often be mutually dependent. While journalists are tasked with reporting the news of the day, senior living marketers are always looking for ways to raise their company’s profile. But even the savviest of PR pros are left walking a tightrope between what a journalist wants to know and what an organization is willing to say as it tries to manage its reputation.
For any senior living professional working on their PR approach, the first step in establishing a good relationship with the media is to gain trust. While it’s important to remember that reporters are human too, you should always work to provide the most accurate information you can and follow through by responding in a timely manner when a journalist does reach out to you. Doing anything less risks damaging the reputation you’re trying hard to set.
Here are some other good rules to follow:
In plain language, honesty is the best policy. If you don’t like the coverage — or lack thereof — that your community is getting, take pause and try to understand why. Whether you’re assisted living, independent living, memory care or a senior nursing facility, it’s possible that what you’re offering for community events or simply as story ideas just aren’t enough of a draw for editors to take notice. Or maybe your message is getting lost in how it’s being presented. Take stock of your current approach so you can understand where you’re going wrong and what you can change.
Whatever you do, don’t beg to get your community or story covered, or carp after the fact that you weren’t included. Just rethink your outreach strategy and live for another idea and day. You also need to recognize that you won’t get coverage for every event or idea you have, so it’s best to save your outreach for when you have something truly news- or feature-worthy to share. Ask yourself: Do you want to be a source of information the press looks forward to hearing from or do you want to be that contact who makes them inwardly groan and think, “what now?” when they see your email.
Don’t ask for kills.
It’s wrong to ask a reporter to NOT run a story. Instead, focus on preventing negative stories by being a part of a senior living community that offers something special to the greater community. But unfortunate things do happen and if you think your side of the story is not being told, be diligent in providing information to reporters that expand their knowledge on a topic. Naturally, in crisis situations, it’s also important to talk to experts to create a smart game plan in how to tackle your response.
Don’t CC every journalist you can find.
You will get better results – and earn the respect of the journalists you work with — if you carefully select who needs to know what information and reach out to them directly in the methods they prefer (like email, Twitter or phone). When sending event information, look for features and calendar editors, and when pitching specific story ideas, try to target a reporter who’d be interested in that topic. You will learn what a reporter is interested in by following them on social media, reading their articles or listening to their broadcasts.
Provide good service.
If a reporter asks for help, get them what they need. If you can provide access to information or help them with their story in a timely manner, it will be remembered. Respect deadlines, and go above and beyond if you really want to be noticed, and a source they’d like to work with again.
Always remember the journalist’s audience.
Journalists are constantly searching for interesting, timely or trending storylines. If you consider what you have to offer in the context of what they are trying to deliver, you are more likely to hit the mark. In that sense, a journalist might not care that your community is hosting a movie night, but would love to cover the birthday party you’re throwing for a resident who is turning 104!