1. How might you change your approach to media relations based on the type of news outlet you hope to pitch (print, broadcast, online)?
Changing an approach to a media relations strategy would affect the content, structure and style of writing of PR material (press release/media letter/etc).
For one, print media allows for more in-depth coverage as more time and space are available. More information should be provided. It would be wise to utilise the typical inverted pyramid structure when writing press releases to pitch a story.
Television focuses on visuals, thus the message has to be succinct and attractively packaged. The message that is to be conveyed should never be a sales pitch as the newsmaker is not on television to advertise. As the newsmaker’s appearance influences viewers’ overall perception of the product or service being sold, he should maintain a cool, clean-cut professional image while maintaining acceptable behaviour that would not draw attention away from his message. For instance, fidgeting.
Radio, the most immediate of all types of news outlets, may dull personality and energy levels over the airwaves. It is essential to keep in mind that listeners have no facial cues, no gestures, only a voice. Hence, on radio, it is important to sound enthusiastic and boost one’s voice to the point of sounding silly.
As for the internet, the writing style should be short, with bright bits of information targeted at an audience with a limited attention span.
2. What advice would you provide to a newsmaker who is about to be interviewed by a reporter?
My first piece of advice to the newsmaker would be to make the interview a conversation and to talk to the host as though sitting in the a living room together. This would allow the newsmaker to feel at ease and comfortable to share information and persuade convincingly. In the event that the reporter makes an attack, the newsmaker would be able to react in a cool and collected manner.
My second piece of advice would be to anticipate the reporter’s questions and have materials ready as the reporter probably has a fixed time for the interview and then must go. Thus, the newsmaker should brainstorm the kinds of questions a reporter is likely to ask ahead of time. This means understanding why the reporter is there - be it to find a hidden story to simply to get more information - as well as going back to the 5W1H, which is the formula for a reporter’s questions.
Lastly, I would remind the newsmaker that not all information need be provided to the reporter as some information is private. In the event that the reporter poses such questions, the newsmaker can simply choose not to answer.
3. What are the steps you might take to ensure ongoing and productive relations with the media?
Most important to note would be crafting press releases are are newsworthy, specific and tailored to the intended media. As previously mentioned, print media allows for more in-depth coverage as more time and space are available. Television focuses on visuals, thus the message has to be succinct and attractively packaged. As for the internet, the writing style should be short, with bright bits of information targeted at an audience with a limited attention span.
Crafting a concise press release that cuts to the chase and provides the journalist with what is needed is another important step. If press releases sent by your organisation does not clearly explain the objective of the story, future press releases may well go unread. This ties in with not trying to sell the media on a product or service, but instead pitch them a unique story. This way, your press release stands out from the stack of many other press releases that often go unread.
Finally, actually developing a relationship with the media. This can be as simple as taking the reporter who wrote a story for the organisation to coffee and sending greeting cards during festivities. These small actions will hopefully mean the journalist remembering you and being more open to looking at your your future press releases.