The current media environment can be a difficult place for organizations to navigate, especially in an increasingly digitized world. Communicating effectively, efficiently and successfully is possible for organizations that are armed with the necessary toolkit of knowledge and resources.

Jennifer Stewart, a Kanata-based entrepreneur, communications expert and active WBN member, offers some helpful tips for organizations to take command of their media relations and deliver successful results.

Avoid Generic Press Releases
Press releases can be an incredibly efficient way to make your organization’s news known to a large group of people. They provide news hooks, contact information and quotes for journalists to utilize or use as a jumping-off point for a larger, more detailed article. Be careful, though: many journalists receive a flood of dozens of stock press releases every day, and many will admit they don’t even open the email.

How can your organization stand out? Create a comprehensive contact list of targeted journalists who report on your organization’s area of expertise, and pitch them directly with more familiar but still professional language. Always use their name when addressing them, not just ‘Good morning.’

Stay Composed and On-Message in Interviews
While most journalists are not ‘out to get you,’ especially for non-controversial topics, it is in their interest to get the most information out of their interviewee.

When discussing contentious or protected topics, go into the interview with one to three key messages and don’t stray from them. Always remember you are talking to a professional journalist and not your friend or co-worker.

Be Prepared for a Crisis
It’s crucial that your organization has a plan in place to handle a crisis, whatever that may look like. With a 24/7 news cycle and Twitter churning out up-to-the-minute news bites, news travels faster than 20 years ago.

Develop a crisis communications plan with specific employees doing precise tasks, and ensure they are prepared to act. This is your organization’s reputation on the line, so take it seriously.

Jennifer Stewart’s new training program, ‘Making Sense of the New Media: Intensive Media Relations Training,’ covering crisis communications, writing fundamentals and interview skills, will be held Oct. 16, 2015 in Ottawa. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit our Eventbrite page.