Think your life and job is hectic?
The media business is in a state of upheaval. We’re talking major upheaval. Think earthquake-style buckling of newsroom floors, and awards for reporting excellence falling off walls, and you’ll get the picture.
When you’re dealing with media today, you’re faced with many journalists who are stressed, overworked and in a rush. That’s what comes with the territory of working in newsrooms where staff layoffs over the past two years have reduced newsrooms to brittle shells of their former selves.
How bad is it? One Canadian media chain is now in the process of rolling out a points system for its journalists. The system is an attempt to gauge productivity. Reporters score points for how many stories they write, social media use, video footage, etc.
Welcome to media relations 2010. It’s not pretty. If your organization or business doesn’t know how to adapt to this new era, you’ll stand less of a chance gaining the media exposure you desire.
You can no longer send out an event invitation to the media and hope someone will attend. Likewise, you can’t rely on phoning in a tip and expect guaranteed coverage.
Here are three essentials for dealing with stressed out media today:
1. Media kit. A simple, yet effective media kit for an event or suggested news story/feature. And, yes, we’re talking simple. You’re wasting your time if your media kit is crammed with 20 pages, a promotional pen, two interactive DVDs, a free T-shirt, etc. (Well, OK, maybe the T-shirt is a good idea. Reporters have such little spare time these days to shop themselves they could probably use free fashions.) When you cram a media kit with too much, it becomes overload for a reporter or editor who’s already short for time. They’ll simply put it aside for future reading, which means, they may forget about it. Keep your media kit concise, and above all, think like a reporter when preparing it. DON’T think like a promoter. Reporters and editors want a fact sheet, contact list, basic event information, one or two prepared graphics (charts, graphs, etc), a couple of professional photos, and one to three potential story angles (yes, think about suggesting story angles! Media always like to find their own story angles, but sometimes when time is tight, they may grab your suggestions).
2. Get to the point quick. Reporters know all about the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why). Unfortunately, many other people don’t. Don’t overload reporters with emails, phone calls, personal visits and voicemails that waste a reporter’s time. Reporters very quickly can label people as valuable contacts or annoying contacts. If you’re in the annoying category, you’ll likely rarely get through live on the phone. That’s the beauty of Call Display. It has become a widely used tool for reporters who are forced to screen calls in order to get work done. Ask a reporter about his/her preferred method for being contacted. And then wisely use that information to get to the point.
3. Don’t base your relationship on negatives. Most reporters will tell you they receive far more negative phone calls or letters about stories than positive calls or letters. It’s a fact. Rarely do people, organizations or businesses call to say “Good job!” Nothing uplifts a stressed reporter on any given day than a phone call from someone who says “thanks” for a job well done. Reporters remember these calls. In fact, they’re often so delighted, they share the news with co-workers as soon as they hang up the phone. Relationships are a whole lot better — and grow — when we take the time say thanks.
Here’s hoping you generate some great stories of your own toward relationship-building with media.