In my last blog post I shared my frustration with one of our local news stations and the one-sided report they did on the recent changes to the Kansas liquor laws, changes that would allow grocery and convenient stores to stock “full-strength” beer while also allowing liquor stores to sell items other than alcohol.
The topic alone is controversial, and the KSN story alienated us from a few of our partners who own liquor stores because it suggested that we care more about increased access to grocery and convenient stores than we do about our existing liquor store partners, which is not true.
You can read my response to the KSN story here: http://aeroplainsbrewing.com/910-2/
Shortly after posting my response, I was contacted by a company, aptly named, Media Minefield. Founded by Kristi Piehl and a team of professional journalists, Media Minefield is a public relation, media coaching, and messaging company. The team at Media Minefield discovered my blog and pointed out that, although more and more companies in today’s media-saturated culture are subject to skewed and one-sided reporting, there are ways to deal with that and make the most of future interactions with the media. Media Minefield’s goal is to help business owners navigate the precarious landscape of earned media—of which news reporting is a big part. As their motto proclaims, “Your message is our mission.”
Aero Plains has been quite successful with our social media engagement. Our connections and contributions to nonprofit organizations like Starkey Inc., Ronald McDonald House, Heartspring, and Beauty & Beasts have garnered warm feedback from our customers and other community members. Of course, we appreciate any media coverage for these events—this brings attention to the causes—but it’s not about us. The media attention is always second to our altruistic and charitable efforts. So, it didn’t feel like we needed any help, despite the snafu with KSN. However, I am forever a student and was truly intrigued by Media Minefield’s passion and interest in our specific incident. Their experience on the other side of the camera as former reporters and producers offered an interesting perspective on the issue.
As a start-up company, spending money with a PR firm like Media Minefield may seem like a frivolous expense. It is not.
The Media Minefield Experience
Having been through their process—which involves message mapping, coaching sessions, then applying those concepts in interviews they arrange—we discovered more about ourselves as a company. They helped me shape my company vision into more coherent, manageable talking points, not only for me but for the rest of my staff. It ended up being a very practical and effective investment.
At first, their Media Coaches wanted to know who we were and what were our “key messages.” What was our company history? What was important to us? What were our greatest obstacles? Who were we as individuals? As a team? They interviewed us as a team, and after their interview, they consolidated our disparate answers and ideas and tied them together into a comprehensive outline—a message map. Once completed, our team recognized more coherent themes describing our company, encapsulated into succinct sound bites, and they quickly rallied around these ideas.
Armed with the sound bites from our message map, the media coaches from Media Minefield set aside time to talk us through interviewing best-practices. Sharing their newsroom experience, they explained what most reporters are looking for in their interviews. They explained what makes a good interview and how those well-crafted sound bites help to create good interview content. They also offered tips and pointers on public speaking and other interpersonal communication skills.
After the coaching session Media Minefield took our company message, reached out to our local news stations, and set up an interview with three different stations. Prior to the interviews, we had a second coaching session and discussed specific sound bites that were appropriate for the interviews. The stories ran on local news stations, bringing us additional exposure and awareness in our community by specifically addressing how we were supporting veterans during the 4th of July.
Here are the pieces:
The great take-away from our experience with Media Minefield was threefold. —First, they helped us discover more about ourselves as a company. Second, by creating these succinct sound bites and coaching us on how to effectively deliver our message, they gave voice to the heart and mind of our employees and our company. Finally, they introduced us to our local media reporters, helped those reporters discover us, and ultimately garnered us positive exposure.