To commemorate Pesel & Carr’s 20th year, we are publishing a series of our top 20 tips, recommendations, insights and more, right here on our website.
In this edition, we’ve put together a list of the 20 media tips we’ve gathered over the many years we’ve been in the biz.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Preparation starts with developing a content plan; know what’s coming up and where potential opportunities lie. You’ll then be prepared (there it is again!) to develop a stellar media release and pitch that relates to the broader industry and topical events.
2. Keep the visual top of mind; something is always more newsworthy if it can be accompanied by an engaging, interesting or dramatic pic. Think about images with lots of colour and movement, unusual angles, eye-catching backgrounds or props, contrasting ideas, or with smiling kids or animals to melt a heart! An interesting picture can get your pitch over the line.
3.If possible, try and capture hi-res good quality photos and sound bites that you can provide an outlet with your pitch, as these days there are fewer resources available to journalists.
4.Ensure someone on your team is responsible for documenting company activities and projects, and for collecting news across different departments and locations. It will help to populate your content plan and uncover opportunities that the communications team might not have otherwise known about.
5. Key messages are critical! Think of your audience; who are they and what you want them to remember. Developing – and more importantly, using – them will ensure consistency across media coverage and will help with interview preparation too.
6. During an interview, communicate clearly and consistently without jargon– key messages prepared correctly will achieve this. Also remember to repeat the essence of the question in your answer so that reporters can include complete quotes from you.
7. A well-written media release is one that gets to the point straight away; it’s short (think around one page) and sharp. It can be helpful to think of a pyramid, the most important information goes up the top, with extra background at the bottom.
8.Remember a pitch is not an advertisement; base it on what is relevant to the readers of the publication. This could mean linking your organisation to a broader industry topic or event, providing new research or an alternative perspective on an existing issue.
9. Don’t waste time trying to promote “news” that isn’t newsworthy; ask yourself is it timely or topical at the moment? Does it impact those people watching the broadcast or reading the publication? Is it unique or novel? Is there visual interest? What is the human angle? Is it a ‘world first’,’ the biggest’, ‘the most expensive’, ‘the fastest’, etc.?
10. Pick your media targets wisely; do your research and make sure you’re pitching the right stories to the right journos!
11. If you don’t have any luck via email or telephone, try to reach journalists via social media. Most journalists are active on twitter but the same rules apply – don’t pitch them an idea that is off-topic and make sure to personalise the pitch.
12. Local and trade media are just as valuable sources of media as mainstream outlets; they can often reach niche audiences that mainstream may not be able to, and can be more targeted to a company’s target audience..
13. There is valuable publicity beyond “general news” if you look, and write it yourself; think outside the square! There’s enormous value in writing opinion editorials or a letter to the editor.
14. When a positive story appears, take the time to thank the journalist and share it on your social media; it shows your appreciation and that you’re doing your part in sharing the news.
15. Have dedicated spokespeople for dedicated business areas; for example, the chair of the board should be the person to discuss organisational strategy in the media, whereas the managing director can speak on operations and day-to-day organisational issues.
16. Even the most articulate spokespeople can benefit from media training, and there are many positives that go beyond just speaking to media
17. A picture tells a thousand words – it’s always worth considering the image you present on camera. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. In terms of dress, blue communicates trustworthiness and honesty, while a white shirt and dark suit communicates authority. Also consider the background against which you’re speaking, both the physical surroundings and the situation more generally. You don’t want to be pitching your business’s growth and success in the midst of a near-empty office!
18. Measure! Evaluating media results is an integral part of any media relations campaign; little to no coverage means it’s time to try a new angle. Media evaluation should also include quality of the coverage, which can be more important than quantity; did the piece cover one or more of your key messages? Did it include a quote from your spokesperson? Was it featured during a popular timeslot or on an early page in a publication? Was an image featured? Did it include a call to action?
19. In the event of a crisis, firstly make sure you are prepared and have a crisis plan, and secondly remember journalists will often call for comment; reception staff should take thorough contact details including name, publication, phone number and deadline – which should be forwarded to the relevant person immediately. Do not answer a reporter’s questions without first preparing – everything is on the record!
20. Know when to ask for help and get the experts in…
For more media advice or to organise individual or group media training sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (03) 9036 6900.