baseballBy guest blogger Michelle Tennant

The biggest mistake people make when seeking publicity is focusing too much on their own needs and not enough on their audience.

Often our first response when we have news to share is to send out a new release in a shotgun fashion. But if we focus only on our need for publicity, our eyes are off the target.

It’s like in baseball where coaches teach players to focus on the ball they are getting ready to hit. Or dance teachers who tell ballerinas to look at a focus point when they are twirling.

To get effective publicity for your product, service or organization, you have to plan for your audience’s needs.
And your first audience is the media. You need to be familiar with the media and work to meet their needs.

Broadcast or print?

Although we speak of the media as if they are one entity, there are big differences between the needs of broadcast and print, local and national and general and specific media.

Print reporters tend to be serious journalists who want to educate the public about the topics they cover. They are interested in getting the scoop — in telling readers what is news, what has not been said before, and putting it into perspective.

Broadcast reporters are more interested in the entertainment value of the news they present. Since they are competing with other visual media to attract viewers, they often seek out news that is controversial, dramatic or compelling. Otherwise viewers will just change the channel.

Television reporters also are drawn to stories with great visual images while print reporters seek statistics, analysis and expert commentary to put stories in perspective.

Both print and broadcast journalists are looking for ways to illustrate larger national trends and stories, and reaction from the public and experts to breaking news.

You have to decide whether broadcast or print is the best venue for publicizing your organization, product or service. But there is a lot more to deciding your target media.

National or local?

In seeking publicity, are you looking at consumers on a local, regional or national level?

When you are working with local newspapers or broadcast media, they are first interested in the local angle — the person making news or their connection to a local or national story.

National media often use specific localized examples illustrate larger trends affecting everyone. A good example was a piece Good Morning America recently produced using contacts they got through my firm, Wasabi Publicity Inc.

Good Morning America specializes in producing great little segments that are entertaining. They were doing a story on parents who have trouble saying no to their children’s request for money in the recession.

This particular segment focused on parenting tips. They called me because they needed a family to interview. I was able to connect them with a family through one my expert clients.

This all came about because I had sent Good Morning America an email letting them know that I am a resource. That’s a good illustration of something I always say: it’s not just who you know, but who knows about you.

General consumer or industry specific audience?

Ask yourself which media will best reach my target audience? Do I need to reach general consumers? Then it may be best to go with TV and radio.

But if yours is a specialized product or service, your best bet is may be trade publications that deal with the details of each industry. For instance, my firm recently publicized a new auto cleaning product through several trade publications.

The point is you should consider your target audience — the media’s needs and interests — before publicizing your product or service. That is how to keep your eye on the ball to create an effective PR plan.

Good Morning America Producer Mable Chan calls Michelle Tennant a “Five Star Publicist.” Tennant, a partner and executive publicist with Wasabi Publicity Inc., calls herself a “storyteller to the media.” She has more than 20 years experience publicizing “truly good stories” and “exclusively represents people who make a positive difference in the world,” according to her Web site. You can learn more about her work on her blog at