Around half a decade ago, I thought only the elite were quoted in media publications. In my head, I thought that media outlets went and sought out the best in the industry to quote. But as I started to investigate further, I saw that wasn't the case.
Reporters, columnists and journalists are regular people just like you and me. They want the same things you do. Something unique and special that they can help promote into the world. Or actionable advice that they would be interested in implementing into their everyday lives. Once I figured out that all I needed to do was hit these guidelines, I was able to get myself into a ton of publications.
But there's also the other end of the spectrum as a columnist. In the last few months, I was signed up for Cision, a platform that PR professionals use to send stories to reporters. I had to make a separate email account to handle all the requests because they were filling up my inbox from things I actually get paid to do, like manage growth on social media accounts, help people out with their reputation and personal brand or ghost writing for super successful entrepreneurs. I glance at the other email address from time to time, but I hardly turn any of the inquiries into stories.
Recently, I met another columnist for Forbes, Ky Trang Ho in a group on Facebook called Shark Tank Entrepreneurs. She uses a site called HARO (Help a Reporter Out) very frequently searching for stories that fit her criteria.
Most people have no idea how to approach the media, PR companies included. They don't know what to say or do and this just turns them off. That's why I have a secondary email address and why Ky turns down most the stories and quotes she receives.
Ky has heard many people say that HARO is a waste of time because they don't get quoted. However, she feels that good responses from HARO are few and far between for five main reasons.
According to Ky, these are the top 5 reasons why you aren't getting quoted by the media:
1. The Story Hijacker
This person responds to queries but uses it as an underhanded way of pitching their story instead. Ky put up a listing specifically asking for recommendations for the top stock picks for 2016. She will get a response where someone invariably responds saying people should really invest in land instead.
When a specific request is made, the reporter is looking for a specific story, not to be sold on another idea. Those nuances matter in a world of specifics like '20 Actresses Who Married Ugly Men' or '20 Cats Who Hate Bath Time.'
"Reporters usually want to pursue topics and keywords that are trending and will attract the most eyeballs possible," Ky said. "For example, I write about publicly-traded stocks so that my story will be listed under the respective pages on Yahoo! Finance, a major source of traffic to the Forbes website. Land doesn't have a Yahoo! Finance page so it's not likely to get syndicated or listed on other major sites."
2. The Long Talker
This person goes off on tangents and takes 20 minutes to explain something that can be said in 140 characters. We all know these kinds of people. But it seems to be like bad breath or body odor. No one is aware they're making others miserable and they probably don't mean do it. Journalists don't have a lot of time to filter through the noise to find the key points. They need to be made clear and precise as quickly as possible.
3. The Faster Talker
Usually these people are from New York. They talk so fast, no one can really keep up to type up a quote. Worse yet, they tend to be a long talker as well.
4. Captain Obvious
If Ky had a dime for every time an entrepreneur told her the key to success in business is having passion and putting in 110%, she would have enough money to start her own VC firm. Probably even enough to fund my entire lifestyle. The solution to this is to study what everyone else is saying and provide something different and unique. Unfortunately, like body odor, people aren't aware they're doing this. They're so wrapped up with themselves that Ky feels like that Jack Nicholson character in A Few Good Men shouting, 'You can't handle the truth!'
5. The Narcissist
This person just turns every answer into blatant self-promotion. Imagine you're asking someone, 'What are the best stock tips?' and they say, 'People should really meet with their advisors at my company to get the best stock picks of 2016 so that we can cater your portfolio to your needs!' They turn these situations into opportunities to talk about themselves, their achievements, religious or political beliefs, etc.
One time Ky interviewed a mutual fund manager who went from talking about the stock market and investing to his disgust with gay marriages. Anyone with a functioning frontal lobe can see why that would be annoying and unquotable.
When you are responding to a request for a quote or to be profiled, be very specific with your response. Provide uncommon advice and have a few facts to back your statement. Otherwise, if you fall within one of the other five categories above, your reporter will dismiss you and won't deal with you ever again.
Do you have any other reasons why people aren't being quoted or featured in the media? I'd love to learn more! Comment below.