Have you heard? Outside Magazine recently named Park City, Utah the best place to live in America. If you’ve read the article, you may agree that Park City is a wonderful place to live, but you may be questioning the tone of the article. If you haven’t read the article, check it out.
This article is a prime case study for a few public relations practices. Two political figures in Park City (both of whom I have utmost respect for) were published with some interesting quotes. This is journalism at it’s finest: taking a sound bite and spinning it to support the angle of the story. The headline of the article itself provides a premise for how the article is written, “There’s no better blend of small-town friendliness, absurdly easy access, and five-star culture than Park City—if you can afford it.” The article goes on to compare Park City to Telluride and Aspen, yet positions Park City as unaffordable?
The article and resulting media coverage in Park City made me think of a few simple techniques to share. A special thanks to my former boss Krista Parry for continuing to preach these techniques over the years, regardless of the context of the interview . If you are ever planning on speaking with media on behalf of your business, association or even yourself, there are a few simple precautions to consider and steps to take before each and every conversation.
- Develop key messaging and talking points with a PR professional as soon as possible, meaning before you have a journalist knocking at your door. Why? This allows you AND your staff or stakeholders to be able to clearly communicate your key messages to any and all interested parties. Creating key messaging and talking points ensures your brand message remains focused and clear.
- Once you receive notice that a journalist would like to interview you, ask for a list of the questions they would like to cover. Why? To prepare yourself; if you know the direction of their story you can prepare sound bites that convey the true meaning of what you are want to say. This isn't always possible, but it is still a great idea to ask.
- Stick to the key messages and talking points you’ve developed. If you think the journalist is pushing the story toward an unfavorable direction, you should focus on reinforcing your key messages and talking points.
- Consider and remember the audience of the publication. Outside Magazine is not Forbes, which isn't a bad thing and to many that differentiation enhances the desirability, but it is a distinction to remember while chatting with any publication.
- Remember, the job of the journalist is to write a compelling article that will sell magazines and ad space. While a picturesque mountain town in Utah is certainly beautiful, throw in a few key sound bites from respected political representatives in town, and now you have something to talk about.
As Andy and Dana have both mentioned, the important take-away is that Park City has been named the best place to live in America, which means it is also a wonderful place to visit! Sure it may be pricier than my hometown of Southaven, MS, but to me the quality of life and the outstanding community more than make up for it.
How do you prepare prior to interactions with the media?