Build Your Local Media Profile

Make your phone ring with reporters—and prospects

December 1, 1998

When you read the newspaper or listen to the local news, do you ever notice that the same experts are often quoted?

I'm one of those people who always get media calls when news breaks. You can be one, too, and boost your business in the process.

There are three main reasons reporters rely on regular sources:

  1. They're good interviewees. Reporters rely on sources who speak candidly, answer questions directly, and can talk in sound bites—ideal for 30-second spots. If you can make one or two colorful statements and get to the point quickly, you'll greatly improve your chances of getting quoted.
  2. They're accessible. Reporters don’t wait for return calls: When they need an interview, they often want you available within minutes. Experts who want to be quoted will go out of their way to return calls immediately.
  3. They've developed relationships with key members of the media. If reporters know you're accessible and a good interview, they’ll tend to call you rather than testing out an unknown source when they’re on a tight deadline.

My media outreach has worked very nicely. A story about my sales techniques appeared in Time magazine, and I've been quoted in Success, Bottom Line Personal, and Worth. I've also been on the nationally syndicated television show Extra, and I make regular appearances on national radio and TV shows. How do I do it? I ask to be there.

I've hired a public relations firm whose job it is to get coverage for me, and I also schedule a couple of lunches a month with publishers, editors, and writers. When interest rates change or if housing sales are slow in my marketplace, reporters call me. The coverage has boosted my name recognition in my market, and whenever a story in which I'm quoted appears in the press, the phone starts ringing with new prospects.

Here's how you can build relationships with your local media.

  • Invite key reporters to lunch.
  • Send useful trend information or ideas regularly to real estate editors. Follow up with phone calls, but don’t be a nuisance.
  • When you speak before local business groups, send a press release to let local media know you're speaking.
  • Hire a good public relations pro in your area. A freelancer may be happy to create a program that fits your budget.

You don’t have to be in Time to benefit from media relations. A smaller, local publication can have a huge impact on your business. Find out what community newspapers people in your farm area read and go after them.

Get copies of the article or broadcast in which you appeared and use it to promote yourself. My marketing kit contains reprints of articles quoting me and a video of my TV appearances.

Nothing helps establish your credibility more quickly with a prospect than a track record as a recognized expert.

Roberts, of Ralph R. Roberts Real Estate Inc., is a Warren, Mich.-based practitioner. He's been in the real estate business for more than 20 years and has sold about 500 homes per year for the past five years. He's also author of the book Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman (New York: Harper Business, 1997).

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