I recently wrote about how in-house magazine publicists scan the galleys of their publications for the best gossip/photos/news content to take to the tabs and other non-competitive media. Today’s “Page Six” shines a spotlight on the always column-worthy Vanity Fair and its alleged practice of unexpectedly pulling a cover if the subject doesn’t dish deep (salaciously) enough.
While I don’t profess to know the secret elixir for what cover art drives single-copy sales, I do know that there should be few such surprises if the pre-interview prep work is done correctly. It’s simply not enough to unilaterally prepare a client for a media interview (not that Paris Hilton will ever subject herself to media training). You need to work both sides of the story equation.
Many of today’s successful media trainers have a good grip on what it takes to make their charges more effective and comfortable in delivering messages no matter the medium. Few, however, have had any interaction with the actual journalist conducting the interview. Hence, the journalist’s true interests arrive indirectly to the trainer via the “media relations specialist” or account handler.
For a news story to be truly successful, all parties to the interview need to emerge satisfied. Hence, it’s key to ensure that your client not just delivers his or her finely honed message track, but that he or she delivers on the interests of the journalist. How many interviews have you organized that resulted in nothing, zilch, diddly? The most common reason: a disconnect between the expectations of the journalist and his or her subject.