Tips for working with the media
Deadlines and communication with the media
- Be aware of media deadlines. Deadlines are different for newspapers, radio and television. Check with journalists when they need information and images by.
- When calling the media, be brief and to the point and leave your name and number for follow up. It is a good idea to ask for the person most likely to be interested in your news. You can monitor local media to see which journalists cover similar stories and ask for them by name.
- Get to know local editors, news editors and senior journalists personally.
- Send media releases to the right journalist/news editor.
Finding a newsworthy hook or angle
- Remember that while your event is important to you, it doesn’t automatically mean the media will think it is newsworthy.
- If possible, offer the media a hook or angle about your event that will catch their attention. For example, local media like local angles and local personalities. Humour, quirky stories and human interest angles are always popular, as are anniversaries or milestones (e.g. the first or biggest).
Time management and efficiency with media
- Keep invitations to the media brief, with just the basic information—time, date, location, and a brief description of events.
- When media call you for information, provide it as quickly as possible. If you need to gather information and get back to them, check when their deadline is and make sure you have their name and direct contact details. If you can not provide the information by the time they need it, tell them when you will be able to provide it.
- If you are providing a spokesperson who the media can interview, make sure that they are prepared and available from the time the media release goes out (including after hours).
Ethics, honesty and a professional approach
- Don’t make promises you cannot keep, as this can have a big impact on media planning space and stories and you relationship with the media in the long-run.
- Relationships with journalists should be based on trust. You should attempt to be available, honest, fair, helpful, reliable, accurate, enthusiastic and patient.
- Do not lie. If you do not know an answer or are unsure what to say to a difficult question don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know, I’ll have to check and get back to you on that’. It is better to be sure of what you are saying than to make an error. However, you should try not to be ignorant too often, and always get back to the media with an answer as soon as possible, and by their deadline.
Know your material
- Know your facts and your organisation. Make sure you are up-to-date on relevant statistics and components of your event to ensure the accuracy of your statements to the media.
- It can help to try and anticipate what some of the questions might be and work out your responses, so that you are practiced at answering them.
Ensure media have the information and accept you can’t control the outcome
- Contact the media at least two weeks before your event to let them know it is coming up. Most media are reluctant to guarantee that they will attend an event, because it depends on what else is happening on the day, but you can at least follow up a few days prior to remind them and make sure they have the details in their diary.
- Be realistic and objective. At times the media’s aims and yours will be incompatible, or other events will impact on the media coverage your event receives
Holding a media launch
- As the name suggests, a media launch is a significant media event which marks the commencement of an event or series of celebrations. It gives the media something to report on prior to your event.
- This event is usually a feature of larger communities.
- Key events (e.g. Australia Day celebrations) are made known to the public through a managed media event.
- Sometimes the launch coincides with another event and so synergies and economies are possible.
- Media launches are usually events of colour and spectacle.
- Consider using a rehearsal as a media event to promote the real event to come.
Using radio and Community Service Announcements
- Some radio stations run free Community Service Announcements (CSAs) for non-profit events and organisations. All you have to do is write a short script—the length will depend on the radio station’s own rules, but usually up to 30 seconds—and they’ll read it out on air for you at certain times over an agreed period.
- Remember to write out the names of people, places or things in full (no acronyms) and also add the phonetic spellings of in brackets of any words the radio presenter may need help to pronounce.
Another way to get on to radio is to offer an interview to the presenters or producers of a specific program. If you can get someone from your organisation