Thursday, May 17, 2007

Increasing Your Media Quotient (MQ) - Part One

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

You've all heard about personal intelligence or IQ and Emotional Intelligence, EQ. But what about MQ, what I call Media Intelligence?

Managers, leaders and entrepreneurs with a high MQ tend to be on the whole more successful than the general population.

They understand that the media can be a powerful vehicle for increasing awareness of themselves and their organisations.

Think high MQ people and the names Sir Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Dame Anita Roddick come to mind.

But how can you increase your MQ or Media Quotient and how can you have control over your message?

I was recently a guest on an international forum with the theme of MQ and was asked the hard questions about the soft skills required to increase your personal or professional MQ.

This article, part one of three, provides answers to the most common questions people around the world have about increasing their MQ or Media Quotient.

Interviewer: How, as individuals or companies involved in a professional services type of business ... such as communications skills training, can we get media exposure?

Thomas Murrell: The most important aspect is to position yourself as "the go to person" in your area of expertise.

I call this "expert" power - this is where you are the expert in your field. Other forms of power are personal and referential, which comes from your Title and position.

Once you have established yourself as an expert, you then need to engage with the media. The best way to do this is through a stylised piece of writing called a media release. This must be newsworthy and not promotional!

Interviewer: Can you give an example of newsworthy writing?

Thomas Murrell: The most newsworthy stories are those that contain the most conflict, drama, and consequence. Proximity, relevance and prominence are also important news values as is human interest.

So these are the criteria that journalists and editors base their decision making on. If your media release is not newsworthy, the media will not be interested.

But your style of writing and format is also important. A good media release should have a strong headline of no more than five words that summarises the story. The first or lead paragraph is also critical and should capture the media's immediate attention and summarise what the story is about.

Interviewer: I have read that in the United States media companies trawl the web for stories, so that putting media releases on your website can get attention. Is there any evidence that this happens here & elsewhere?

Thomas Murrell: Yes, this is good for search engine optimisation. Go to overture.com, use their research tool to find out what keywords people are searching for, then pepper these words in your headline and lead paragraph - writing an online media release is different from writing a normal news release for traditional media.

Interviewer: Have you ever got media coverage this way, or have you directly generated your own media releases?

Thomas Murrell: Yes, I got my media release in the Top 10 ranking on Google for a search on the phrase "effective public relations".

I deliberately and consciously used these phrases in both the headline and first three paragraphs because the overture tool showed me that this was a common search term. When I say "common", I use the benchmark that more than 15,000 people per month are putting this particular term into search engines to search for information or a solution to their issue or problem.

And remember, business is all about providing solutions to people's problems.

Interviewer: You said you have to write media releases differently for your website, are there other tips you can give?

Thomas Murrell: Have your personal name, and name of your business in the headline and first paragraph because when people search for these, if they see your media releases come up they will read them and this will re-enforce your position as the expert.

It can generate a lot of traffic back to your website.

Part two of this three part article will be in the next edition of Media Motivators.

Want more skills in dealing with the media? Come to our seminar:

Tuesday, June 12th 2007, The WA Club, Perth Western Australia
Winning The Media Game Book now.

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