EFFECTIVE MEDIA RELATIONS
Think like a Journalist
Effective media relations involves working with the journalist on
the story. Put yourself in their position. If you’re working with a
producer or assignment editor, think about how your story will fit into
the broadcast or paper. If you’re working with the reporter, think
about why people will be interested in your story. Remember that the
reporter must sell the story to the editor, so help them out.
Two Good Rules:
Rule Number 1: The Inverted Triangle, or the concept
of placing the most important information at the beginning of the
story and summing up the story in the first sentence.
Rule Number 2: Be Brief. Today’s broadcast journalists are hard pressed to tell their story in the briefest amount of time possible.
Proactive vs. Reactive Media Relations
Reporters do not sit around the newsroom waiting for your call.
They often have several stories in progress, deadlines and obstacles in
the pursuit of the news. Therefore, you must BE PROACTIVE.
PROACTIVE media relations means your organization
reaches out to the media when it’s not a crisis, letting them know
about your organization and having materials ready for them. Create the
relationship before the story becomes the issue. Create a file of
names, phone numbers, email addresses and fax numbers for your
REACTIVE media relations, comes into play when the
media comes to you in response to an event. Rarely is this managed in
a completely effective manner. Your good relations with the media will
go a long way if you find yourself caught off-guard and unprepared for
an “on the run” interview or sudden phone call interview.
Know the right “media” for your target audience
Traditionally we think of the media in terms of our interactions
with them. The first thing that comes to mind might be television,
radio or newspapers. Within each of these categories are specific
elements targeted at groups of people (or demographics). When creating
your message be mindful of the target demographic of your selected
Twelve Golden Rules for Talking to the Media:
1. Be honest and concise.
2. Be aware that you’re being recorded and that anything you say can and will come back as the story evolves.
3. Avoid dramatic presentations.
4. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” (Followed, of course, by “But I will find out.” )
5. Nothing is “off the record;” once you have said it, it is said.
6. Don’t be afraid of silence. It’s a technique often used by reporters to prompt people to continue talking.
say “No Comment” or push past reporters. Be respectful and explain why
you can’t answer such as "My attorney has advised me not to answer
8. Avoid sarcastic or cute remarks.
you see a camera or microphone, assume you’re being recorded. (Some
microphones can pick up sound at 50 feet). Assume that all phone
conversations are taped.
10. Make sure that the background is
appropriate. Avoid roads or streets that might become noisy. Avoid having crowds or unknown people in the background.
11. Always have a tie, jacket or nice shirt or blouse available.
nervous, non-verbal signals such as the plastered smile, jingling keys
or pocket change, or fidgeting with your clothing or hair. For heaven’s
sake, don’t chew gum or light a cigarette!
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