Planning and Preparation
Be even handed in all dealings with the media - and you will surely gain. Remember you can never order a reporter or photographer to attend an event. The media have their own priorities, but given consideration of their needs, can be very co-operative and supportive.
- Do give the media time to plan.. Tell all your weekly press of your event at least two weeks in advance. If you think the local evening paper or radio/tv station may be interested, give them a call about three or four days ahead.
- Do make sure you know of all the media who cover your area and when their deadlines are (ask : they will readily tell you). Make certain you deliver your report well ahead of the deadline.
- Tell them briefly what is to happen, where and the time and give a name and telephone number who can be readily contacted day or evening. You must do this by letter and you could follow it up with a phone call.
- Always keep it brief, 60 - 200 well written words used in their entirety are far better than 500 - 700 cut down to fit the available space with the wrong emphasis and errors as a result. Always present this in double line spacing and typed wherever possible.
- If writing a press report, or speaking to the media afterwards, do keep it simple. They do not have your depth of knowledge and will know little of the background. The reporter who reads or receives your report may not be the one you spoke to originally.
- Try on every occasion to include a brief mention of the Centenary Appeal and the telephone number for donations/ further information.
- Half the problems in dealing with the media arise through genuine misunderstandings. Always double check your facts.
- Do make sure that any handout or statement answers ALL of the key elements of any statement - who, when, why and what?
- Who opened the event/presented/spoke? (Everyone mentioned needs their correct title and full name - not initials)
- When did it/will it take place? Actual date not 'last week' or 'next month' and full description of location.
- Why is it happening? Summarise in one paragraph what your group achieved or is hoping to achieve.
- What took place or will take place? Describe briefly. If important people are to be present make sure you know their correct titles, correct spelling and reason for their involvement. Whether they are perhaps a patron, dignitary, company chairman etc.
- Do build a relationship with your local media based on mutual consideration and courtesy. They are your best hope of Regular coverage. They come out once a week whereas the evening, radio and TV appear daily, so try to plan coverage so that your weekly press are not "scooped".
- Try to issue releases and give notice of your event in ample time for their NEXT deadline. Then and only then send it to the other bigger media - the local press are generally very appreciative of such consideration and it does help to build bridges.
- Try to understand the respective news values of the different media. In broad terms the greater the territory covered the less likely they are to be interested. Your bazaar merits a report/photo in the local paper and might even rate a paragraph in the evening press - but it would never make radio or television. A bazaar is too common place for that - unless it is opened by a major celebrity.
- Your local press must always be your prime target, as they cover your particular area.
- Even if your local press contacts are not willing to send a reporter or photographer to a particular event you may still get some coverage if you send in your own report (with or without photo) afterwards.
- Don't guess at anything when dealing with the media. Never pass on hearsay or rumour. Do not forecast what SHOULD happen next. Always refer the media back to the concerned person for clarification.
- Do not comment unless you are directly involved. Instead, politely suggest that the reporter contacts the concerned person directly.
- Similarly, even if you think the criticism unfair or outrageous do not respond. Often reporters seek out views in order to localise their story. Your views will be reported rebutting the complaints listed.