For any Nearshore BPO firm, one of the best ways to raise the public profile of the company or the country is to engage with local media, but many industry stakeholders are still averse to this reality.
Through the many trips that Nearshore Americas takes to countries in the region, we often find that companies generally have a “hands off” approach to local communications, especially as it relates to newspapers, TV, or radio stations.
PR departments and executives within BPO and call center companies often assume that local media doesn’t understand the industry, or that journalists have an axe to grind due to negative coverage in the past – the old “boiler room” mentality and poor working conditions are still one of the industry’s biggest stigmas, especially with people who have no experience with it.
This is clearly a “Catch 22” situation, in which media outlets would be more supportive of the role BPO plays if the BPO providers actively helped them to overcome misconceptions that have plagued the sector in the past.
The first thing to ask is, do you – as part of your local BPO ecosystem – believe you can still grow and emerge with mass media completely understanding what you do? If so, perhaps some of these guidelines to media engagement will help.
Communication Improves Reputation
It’s not just the media companies that are averse to engaging with BPOs. On the other side of the coin, providers, particularly in the Caribbean, can make rash assumptions about local media, often feeling like they should avoid engaging, or that they can do nothing to help their cause.
If this is how your company views the local press, think about the massive potential of reaching a larger cross-section of the country’s available employees. There are thousands of people that may have never heard of your company, and a story about recent expansions, recruitment drives, or CSR initiatives will work wonders for a boost in applicant engagement.
This route also establishes an initial working relationship with media outlets, helping them slowly understand the complete picture, and making it easier to engage on future stories.
Getting (The Right) Press Coverage
If your company is looking for press coverage on a certain topic, you can’t just fire off pitches and hope a journalist accepts them; in order to get successful media coverage, it takes hard work and careful planning.
Start off by creating a communications plan. Get into bed with local stakeholders, universities leaders, and even employees so that they can express the benefits that the delivery center offers, providing testimonials to the social and economic value of the industry.
You could even plan an ‘open house’ event, in which you invite local journalists into your facility, give them the guided tour, introduce them to some employees, and let them ask questions. Show them your transparent side, because the feeling that BPOs have something to hide — for whatever reason — is how some media companies view the sector.
Actively Engage with Investment Promotions Agencies
If directly approaching newspapers and journalists proves to be a challenge, local IPAs usually have communications plans in place for getting word out on the sector. They can also offer valuable advice for engaging with local media.
“Our communication team works constantly on instruments like success stories and press releases,” said Maykool Lopez, Trade Commissioner & Director at PROCOMER, Costa Rica’s national IPA. “We regularly develop new studies about opportunities in international markets and share them with local media, inviting them to local events, and sharing information about every interaction and participation in international markets. Our intelligence department also creates business alerts, providing information on industry opportunities to be aware of. Local media often use this as a source of information for their news.”
If you’re not already enjoying a healthy relationship with the country’s IPA, you’re missing out on their leverage over local media and the support they can offer in spreading the good news about your company.
Think from a Journalist’s Perspective
Local media want to write stories that will get the attention of their audience, so give them just that.
If the platform is directed at a financial- or business-minded audience, offer up information about potential investment opportunities, expansions, or developments that may affect your stock price.
If the audience is more general, like with a free newspaper handed out on street corners, then focus on the social aspects of your company, such as how you’re supporting your employees, caring for the environment, or introducing education initiatives.
Furthermore, successful media outreach is all about relationships, as journalists prefer to build a rapport with companies before doing any favors, so start reaching out and connecting with them well in advance of your story idea.
By opening up communication, engaging with national stakeholders, and developing an ongoing relationship with local media, companies will stand a better chance at debunking the myths that are entertained by those outside the sector, ultimately increasing the reputation of BPO and helping overcome future talent shortages.
What strategies do you include in your local media engagement plan? How have local media helped or hindered your company’s performance in the sector? Sound off in the comments.