Working with the media doesn't have to be an intimidating experience. Knowing why they call can help you prepare.
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The ATM has been replenished, teller stations are balanced and closed out, and you’re ready to leave for the weekend. Then, the phone rings … a local reporter is on the line.
When members of the media call, they’re seeking information for a story and looking for your voice. Most often working on deadline, reporters need an immediate reply. Your prompt and engaging response helps build a successful working relationship with your local media.
So why do reporters call? There are four basic reasons.
1. They want to localize a national story. Local media will often contact nearby businesses to get a perspective on a national story. The Fed has raised interest rates, a massive data breach leads to card fraud, skimmers have been found on ATMs, or counterfeit money is being used in your area. These situations provide an opportunity to share your expertise, raise your profile with potential members and build a relationship with a local reporter.
2. They need an expert. You’re an experienced professional in your field. You have information to share. That national news story we just mentioned needs a local perspective. You can be the subject matter expert. How do your members keep their cards safe? What steps should be taken to ensure safety at the ATM? Counterfeit bills—what do they look like? Providing tips helps others identify you and your credit union as concerned—and knowledgeable—members of your community.
3. They received your pitch for a compelling story about your business. Once you’ve engaged with the media a few times, you’ll start to understand what they need and where you fit in. Your institution is building a new branch, coordinating a community-wide event, or offering financial literacy to high school students—you have a story to tell and the local media is interested. Focus on the benefits to the community and you’ll get great coverage.
4. A critical incident happened at your credit union. The news isn’t always positive. There may have been a data breach, or an employee may have embezzled funds. The media will call and how you respond will impact the reputation of your organization. Take responsibility and speak truthfully. Indicate that you are aware of the situation, apologize to those who may have been impacted, outline the steps you’re taking to resolve the issue, and tell how processes are being put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Taking time to build a relationship with your local media gives your organization an advantage when the phone rings and a reporter is on the other end of the line. Responding to media inquiries presents opportunities to tell your story, provide expertise and share the reasons why your organization is an engaged member of the community.
Now when the media calls, you’ll be prepared.
Patrick Dix is a seasoned media professional and the leader of SHAZAM’s public relations efforts. In a 25-year career as a broadcast journalist, he received recognition for outstanding reporting with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, William Randolph Hearst Foundation and Midwest Broadcast News Association. SHAZAM, Johnston, Iowa is a national member-owned debit network, processor and core provider delivering choice and flexibility to community financial institutions throughout the U.S. since 1976. SHAZAM is a single-source provider of the following services: debit card, core, fraud, marketing, merchant and more. Follow @SHAZAMNetwork.
Also read, “So You Just Received An Interview Request.”