The “Exclusive.” Every media outlet wants one, and every PR professional should understand how to offer one. Stuck between a rock and a hard place is the best way to describe a media exclusive. You want to offer the opportunity to a journalist who’s covered your client extensively, but you don’t want to step on any toes of other media personnel who you may have a relationship with and who has covered your client in the past.
Case in point: Charlie Sheen’s current crisis. The Two and a Half Men star has been plastered all over tabloids and Hollywood’s gossip columns for his awkward and crazy behavior. Recently, he offered an exclusive to one of today’s top media giants: ABC’s Good Morning America and 20/20. The only problem is he offered the same “exclusive” to NBC’s Today Show. The two networks, who’ve been competing against one another since the beginning of television, thought they had the full story on Hollywood’s latest antagonist, but turns out they were both fooled. And as he approaches the beginning of unemployment, it will be hard to convince either giant network that he’s ready to commit and get back to work.
The actor, who’s “waging war” on CBS for breaking his contract, will definitely be scrutinized in the public eye for months to come. But we can learn a lot from his foul ups. First of all, keep your promises. There is nothing worse than to have media put their trust in you and you break the rules. The same goes for the media and embargo dates. You have your trust in the journalist that they will not post or publish your story until the embargo date is up, correct? Keep your promises!
The second rule of thumb is determine if this particular outlet will express your core messages directly and correctly to your target audience. You also need to determine how important an exclusive is in getting your message out to the public. In some cases, an exclusive could be just the ticket to build a relationship with a popular journalist or secure your client’s feature in a top media publication that reaches the masses.
No matter the situation, there is nothing worse than losing your credibility or the trust of a notable journalist. A good rule of thumb is to follow your instincts; if you have the slightest doubt about offering an exclusive then tread cautiously.