June 1, 2013 Columns

Spreading the Word: Five Ways Appearances Matter in Publicity

When it comes to publicizing your profession, expertise, work or practice, appearances matter. Here are some pointers to keep in mind, whether pitching a story idea or meeting a reporter at the local coffee shop.

When it comes to publicizing your profession, expertise, work or practice, appearances matter-just like in your everyday personal life! From a public relations standpoint, the media will consider you as credible as your content. Here are some pointers to keep in mind, whether pitching a story idea or meeting a reporter at the local coffee shop.

  1. Be accurate. It's all in the details. The media representatives are looking to you as an expert and counting on the information you provide to be accurate. After all, they're passing it on to viewers or readers who trust them, their media outlets and their reporting. So, do your research. Double-check numbers, stats or studies you cite. If you work for a hospital or school, ensure the information you are providing is not at odds with their policy or position.
  2. Look the part. Come to on-camera interviews or reporter/blogger meetings in your "work" mode. Arrive for interviews dressed professionally. Even if you're not expecting an on-camera interview, a blogger may want to take an impromptu photo of you to go along with the post! Your running gear may not make the best impression—even at a Saturday chat in the coffee shop.
  3. Protect your online identity. When was the last time you did a Google search for your name? Check out what's being said about you or your workplace online. You don't want one disgruntled patient or confused consumer cutting into your credibility. To stay current, set up a Google "alert" with your name. Enter your name in quotes ("Joan Smith") or you may get bombarded with hits for every "Joan" or "Smith" mention!
  4. Ensure your social media activity doesn't harm the professional you. In today's social media world, having one Twitter handle for both personal and professional use is fine. Everything you say, do and comment on online, however, reflects your personal "brand" and professional identity. So, be careful what you write. Don't let emotion take over, don't reveal too much of your personal life or express too many of your political beliefs if you think clients, your boss, colleagues or the media may be offended.
  5. Protect confidentiality. Nothing grabs the media's attention more than a human interest story that brings issues or our professions to life, but be careful. Protect your clients' confidentiality at all costs.

These tips may seem like common sense, but they are factors that are easy to forget in the excitement or anxiety around talking to the media. By putting your best foot forward, you can not only gain a reporter's trust but increase and protect your credibility as an ongoing media source.


  

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