Media literacy is an essential skill in the digital age that we need to help people develop, ideally from a young age.
Welcome to another installment of our PR Strategy Series, where you can learn directly from top industry experts on how you can leverage media attention to grow your business.
Today we are talking about how you can grow your PR career by highlighting parts of a conversation I had over at Authority Magazine with Karina Frayter.
Karina Frayter is a senior managing director and head of media at RF|Binder, fully integrated strategic communications and consulting firm headquartered in New York City. Ms. Frayter previously spent over 12 years in business journalism and television news production. She had been a field producer at CNBC for many years and held various roles at CNN, CNN-International, News 12 Connecticut, and WABC-TV in New York. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Manhattanville College.
Thank you for doing this! Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was a very curious child growing up, with a strong desire to learn and understand things around me and share that knowledge with others. By my teen years, I came to realize that knowledge is empowering and liberating.
When you have the information you can be more in control of your life and make informed decisions, without being held back by fear or relying on others to make decisions for you. That notion really resonated with me and eventually led me to a career in journalism. I wanted to empower people with information, and the central purpose of journalism is to do just that so that people can make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, and their governments.
I went on to have an amazing career in broadcast news, working as a producer at top-tier news organizations like CNN and CNBC, helping on-camera reporters do their job. It was a thrilling experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it — gathering information, developing sources, crafting stories and sharing them with the audience. There, I also developed deep expertise in business journalism.
Several years ago, I decided to take my experience and passion to public relations and joined RF|Binder, strategic communications and consulting firm. In my current role as a head of media, I continue to empower people — our clients — with critical information that helps them tell their corporate story and achieve their business goals.
Which three character traits do you think have been most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Curiosity. It’s important for me to learn something new every day. Both journalism and public relations have been perfect careers for me in that sense because there’s always an opportunity and need to acquire new knowledge, dig deeper, ask probing questions, and find answers.
When I started in journalism, topics like business, economics, and investing were very foreign to me. But when I was presented with the opportunity to make them my focus, I embraced it. My desire and ability to learn helped me build the expertise that has been serving me really well in professional life ever since.
Taking calculated risks. Like many people, I innately dislike change. But I push myself to embrace it and never let myself get too comfortable, as comfort breeds complacency and stagnation. Reaching new levels of success in a professional career and as a business leader requires a willingness to raise your hand when no one will, take risks, and not be afraid to fail.
As Jeff Bezos wrote in a letter to Amazon shareholders several years ago, “To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.” You have to be comfortable with taking risks and dealing with consequences in order to grow and get to that next level of success, however you define it.
Not taking no for an answer. I don’t easily give up when faced with a challenge. Life has taught me not to see obstacles as something that gets in the way of success, but rather as an integral part of the process. This attitude pushes me to be creative and find solutions even when they are not immediately evident. It served me well when I was a television producer and had to find a way to make things happen, like secure an important interview or a filming location. It also serves me well in my current role in helping clients get media coverage.
When one reporter says “no” and passes on the story, I always look for another angle and another reporter, until I get to the “yes” or can confidently say that no stone was left unturned.
Wonderful. Let’s now jump into the main part of our interview. What 3 media strategies are typically most effective in generating more business for a national brand?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. At RF|Binder, we start by doing a deep dive into our clients’ business, its target audience, competitors, and white space to decide what will be most effective.
Jump on the news. I am not a big fan of the word “newsjacking,” that’s popular in the PR industry, but essentially it means to be proactive in monitoring the news to identify opportunities that fit your expertise to add insights and opinions on breaking news or trending topics. This not only helps you to secure media exposure but also positions your company as a thought leader on relevant issues to your clients and raises its visibility with reporters, often helping to lay the groundwork for future feature coverage.
Create proprietary research. To separate themselves from the competition, drive authority and generate mediable content, many companies may find it valuable to conduct proprietary research or third-party surveys on topics of interest to prospective clients. These can be general or technical in nature. Such research helps to obtain information that prospective clients and media can’t find elsewhere. It also helps drive the conversation. The data can be used across platforms and channels as infographics or blogs, as well as for pitching reporters, who are always looking for data.
Don’t ignore local media. Local placements may lack the glamour of a national placement, but they are often as important or even more important for national brands looking to grow their customer base. Coverage of a franchise store opening, exciting local promotions, or new delivery options, for example, can drive sales. In addition, reporters at national publications are always looking at local media for stories that have national implications or may be interesting to broader audiences. Many national stories begin as local stories. A good story gives you an opportunity to pitch the local AP bureau or get coverage in a metropolitan daily publication. If the story gets syndicated, one local placement can turn into dozens of placements online amplifying its reach.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I am passionate about many issues that need attention, but since this interview is focused on the media, I will single out the critical need to promote media literacy. It plays right into my desire to empower people with information, that I talked about at the beginning.
The last several years have been a stark reminder that the spread of misinformation and fake news can give rise to troubling cultural trends and alarming political movements. We see a proliferation of punditry and opinion across media. Against this backdrop, it’s imperative to help people develop critical thinking skills, equipping them to evaluate the reliability and credibility of information whether it comes via print, television, or the Internet.
Of course, we don’t want people to think that all information is somehow out to manipulate them, but we need to empower them to assess the quality of the information because it drives their decisions and the decisions they make determine their actions.
In my view, media literacy is an essential skill in the digital age that we need to help people develop, ideally from a young age.
Thank you for sharing so many insights with us!