Strong media relations are vital to your business’ success in today’s fast-paced digital age. These increase your personal reputation and name recognition with reporters, making your pitching efforts go much more smoothly throughout your career.
Media relations are worked on every single day. In our previous article, we discussed one of the first critical steps in creating these long-term relationships: the virtual check-in. As the online alternative to a coffee meeting, virtual check-ins are an initial interaction where you reach out, find a reporter who covers your area of expertise or business, and let them know that you’re interested in connecting.
Successfully setting up the virtual check-in is only the beginning! Now, you have to make sure that you make the best impression possible. As Sage Communications’ Mike Atkinson rightly puts it, this meeting is not the time to make a pitch. Contrary to popular belief, attempting a hard sell during a virtual check-in can actually hinder your efforts to establish credibility. That’s because there was no previously established rapport to show genuineness.
Beyond the content of your conversation, there are other ways to ensure you and your representative create a positive and credible reputation. Let’s take a closer look at the essential ones below:
Even if your meeting is virtual, appearances do matter. As established in a 2023 study in the Journal of Business Ethics, choice of attire can significantly impact the perception of your or your representative’s credibility. Consequently, negative perceptions based on attire can easily result in another party’s unwillingness to do business with you. Consider business casual attire the safest and most appropriate choice during virtual check-ins. This exudes a sense of competence while making your representative appear more relatable.
Attire extends to accessories. If your representative uses corrective eyewear, save the bright and trendy frames for after-work hours and opt for professional and timeless designs, such as Ray-Ban’s Clubmaster or Oakley’s Airdrop. While shopping for glasses, you or your representative can also consult expert opticians for the best fit, ensuring a sleek and put-together look. Similarly, your representative should avoid flashy pieces of jewelry. These could distract from the conversation and undermine your business’ credibility.
Mind your background and lighting
At an initial glance, virtual backgrounds are an efficient way to appear professional during an online meeting. However, this can easily backfire! A beautiful background image can damage professional credibility because it adds nothing valuable to your point. It can also make your representative feel less personal, and creating a human connection is the entire purpose of virtual check-ins.
Instead, it’s best to arrange for the decor to be neat but neutral or reflective of your expertise. Consider showcasing nondescript books or documents that hint at your clients, products, or services. Lighting is equally essential. A well-illuminated face and clear, bright eyes build trust and credibility. Your representative should avoid sitting in front of a sunny window, as this can create a dark silhouette, and position a gentle light source behind the camera.
Demeanor and body language
Because appearances in a virtual meeting are constrained to a screen, demeanor and body language play a pivotal role in virtual meetings. Your representative should maintain a relaxed yet proper posture throughout the check-in, sitting closer to the edge of their seat to appear engaged in the conversation. By the same logic, they should also avoid leaning back or crossing their arms.
Moreover, your representative should strike a balance with smiling. Greeting the other party enthusiastically can create a positive atmosphere at the start of the virtual check-in, but smiling should only be done at appropriate times to avoid coming across as insincere. Additionally, remaining completely still can make them appear disengaged. Instead, they should maintain regular eye contact by looking directly into the camera, and use hand gestures sparingly to emphasize points and maintain a natural flow to the conversation.
By carefully following the above tips, you can significantly enhance your representative’s credibility.