10 Effective Methods for Dealing with the Media
As an organisation, your media approach matters.
This was the message delivered by two acclaimed journalists in Trinidad and Tobago during a recently concluded media training workshop.
Executive Producer and News Anchor at CNC3 Television, Sampson Nanton and Head of News at Radio i95.5 FM, Dale Enoch emphasised that critical to any message is how you create it. The duo, who spoke for one hour each both agreed that when you are creating your key messages they should never contain technical details or focus on complexities.
“The story you tell has to be convincing and if it’s strong enough delivered with authenticity you can pass the reporter’s test,” says Nanton.
He further admitted that while most PR pros and people being interviewed have a lot of information to get across, they should focus on pitching the who, what, where, when, why and how as quickly as possible because “time plays a critical role in every newsroom”.
According to Enoch, journalists dislike hedging as much as they resent being bombarded by news of a company event which has little meaning in an understaffed newsroom.
There are channels to get your news out to the public. Understand what those channels are, determine its relevance to your stories and you’ll be more than half way there.
Here are ten tips Enoch and Nanton said PR pros should know when communicating with members of the Fourth Estate
1. Think about your audience: Use simple language to communicate your message. This also helps the reporter because they don’t have to spend a lot of time analysing what you are trying to say, especially since most editors tend to green-light stories that reporters could summarise in one short, concise sentence.
2. Consider your contact approach: Telephone calls are welcome, but they interrupt the reporter especially if you are calling to give them a long pitch. And lengthy email messages will likely be deleted. So again, be clear and concise; reporters need that brevity in order to get their editors to buy in. Alternatively, if you have a story to tell consider packaging it and sending it off to the media, but make sure it meets all the basic journalistic principles. Another method is to send the raw footage and let them decipher the message. Some radio stations even have two minute news updates every hour and are always looking for new content to report on, so you can also use that as an opportunity to get your message out.
3. Pay attention to how you communicate: The way you communicate to a journalist in a crisis plays a very important role in the dissemination of your message. If you communicate honestly, with authenticity, sincerity and confidence you can create a circle of trust between you and the journalist and allow the reporter to see your point of view
4. Don’t be afraid to follow up: Out of sight, out of mind. Reporters get busy so go ahead and just give them a quick call to say you sent a package or a release. Just make sure they have the correct information
before and after the interview.
5. Get to know them: Reporters need buy-in from the editors for any story they work on and that makes them the people you should meet. So whenever you can spare the time, pay a visit to the editor and get to know him/her. You can make those media visits twice a year.
6. Become a Source. Is your industry dynamic? Are there new trends that the reporter covering your beat should know? Please don’t call a reporter when you only want something in the press. Have a continuous
dialogue and help the reporter to become better at his/her beat
7. Reporters can be aggressive, they want the story on deadline and they will play the devil’s advocate and look for bad news. If you don’t get your side out, the bad news will be what the public sees
8. It’s ok to say you don’t know
9. It’s never ok to say you can’t comment
10. Newsrooms are understaffed, but if you are going to send something to the press make sure that it respects the normative standards of news or it won’t get past the editor.