1. Timeliness Is Key.
Pretty good answers NOW are a lot more valuable than perfect answers tomorrow. If the story is breaking and the reporter calls now, you need to react quickly. If you have to take 20 minutes to prepare message points and sound bites, do so. But make sure the reporter knows you will absolutely, positively 100 percent call back in 20 minutes or less. And then do it. If a reporter from a major national TV network or newspaper calls you for the first time, give them an interview RIGHT THEN. If you let them off the phone for even five minutes, you might not ever get them back.
2. Be Accessible.
If you want to be a part of breaking news stories, you need to be easy to reach. Public relations counselors hate it when I say this, but I believe that anyone who is seeking news coverage should allow direct access to the media. That means you and your clients should have your cell phone and home phone numbers made accessible on your Web sites, press releases and work voice mails. A reporter working on a deadline after hours does not want to have to call a public relations firm just to get a number of a news source. I have often been a guest on national TV news networks like MSNBC and Fox News Channel on Saturday morning, not because I am a famous big shot. (I’m not.) I got invited on because desperate bookers had my cell phone and home numbers and knew I wouldn’t be mad if they called me at 11:15 p.m. on Friday night or 7:05 Saturday morning.