Speakers Advise Catalogers on Dealing with Media

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Dealing with journalists and other members of the media was a hot topic at a session here this week at the 17th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition. A panel including two professional journalists offered advice to attendees about talking to the press and getting media attention.

The speakers at the session were Amy Blankenship, director, Shop-at-Home Information Center, DMA; Victoria Colliver, reporter, San Francisco Examiner; Lisa Hahn, president, Caugherty Hahn Communications Inc.; and Kara Swisher, reporter, Wall Street Journal.

While all the speakers basically agreed on the main points, Swisher summed it up with her list of The Ten Be's:

* Be short -- long messages get erased, e-mails deleted and press releases unread

* Be clear -- use simple language and get your point across right away

* Be realistic -- don't expect a feature story or even to get a call back every time

* Be smart -- don't call a reporter on deadline

* Be invisible -- PR people should facilitate interviews and then disappear

* Be truthful -- say no comment or I don't know rather than making false statements

* Be kind -- make the reporter's job as easy as possible

* Be prepared -- have important information and general

* stats ready

* Be good -- if your company does what it does well, it will be of interest

* Be weird -- unusual products or services often get coverage

Colliver stressed that information should be timely, relevant and sent to the correct reporter in their preferred format. She also added that gimmicks don't work.

Panelists fielded audience questions at the end of the session.

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