Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to stop being a news release vending machine

gumball machine
"Change is inevitable--except from a vending machine," the man said. No, it won't happen overnight (or for 25 cents). But you can change the culture in your company or organization so that you feel less like a vending machine of news releases and more like a trusted advisor. Here's how:
  • Get your team's act together. I first came up with the "instead of a news release" idea when my team started grumbling about vending-machine syndrome. We had our own staff brainstorm what else could usefully be offered instead of a news release. Then everyone got the list, both to use as a guide for conversations with clients and to share with clients so they'd know what to ask for. In many cases, clients were merely unaware of their options. Make sure you and your team are delivering consistent messages -- about releases or anything else you no longer recommend.
  • Alert management. As communications director, one of your roles is to alert senior management when you're shifting gears. Let them ask questions and share your strategy--then ask them to reinforce it when their teams complain.
  • Breed some healthy competition. When you're able to convince someone to let you take a more effective approach, reward that good behavior. This is one time when a good internal blog or email about "what we've done for you lately here in communications" can work wonders. (My favorite was called "Got You Covered," a useful double entendre.) Such a summary can create internal buzz, share what's working and give your clients some internal visibility (for many, that's what they wanted in the first place).
Have trouble putting these ideas over? Need an in-house training session on alternative ways to boost your media relations without annoying all the reporters? Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

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