Wednesday, 1 February 2012

5 ways to get your story in the media

If you are in field of communications, you must have got requests and instructions to get your organisation’s stories in the mainstream media. While publishing a story in the media channels doesn’t seem to be a strenuous task, getting published the right content at right time is always challenging.

However, if you plan well and execute the plan rightly, you will be able to get your message through. Check the tools and activities and their nitty-gritty that will help you get your story in the media.

Organise a press trip
Organising a press trip to your working area gives the journalists a fair amount of first hand information about the work your organisation is doing. They can interact with the beneficiaries and stakeholders and come up with the desired story.

Two points that you need to take care while planning a press trip are – 1) plan well ahead, sketch the itinerary, make list of the persons you want the journalists to interact with, collect all background information and 2) weave stories you desire to appear in the media, brief the journalists accordingly, lead them towards your angle of the story.

The two perfect no’s during the trip are – 1) never distort the facts and 2) don’t ever try to influence the journalists and request them to write on your behalf. It would not only shatter your media relations but in a long run your orgnisation will be blamed to be a manipulator.

However, you can request the journalists to share the stories prior to publishing to check whether the designations of the people speaking for your story have been distorted or they have been misspelt or misquoted.

While organising such trips make sure that you make a good mix of local and national level journalists. And yes, don’t forget to include a photo journalist – if s/he publishes a well captioned photo in any of the major pages, your work is done. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Organise a press conference
Another easy way to get your news in the media is organising a press conference at major events. Just keep in mind few basics of holding a press meet.

Invite the journalists a day in advance – don’t forget to use all means of communication – email the invites, fax the invites and call the news desk to confirm whether they have received the invites and have assigned the reporters.

Get your press release ready, well in advance. Get the quotes in your release signed off from the speakers before finalising the release. If you want to disseminate the release in more than one language, get it translated on your own. The journalists won’t bother to translate your press release and create news out of it.

Put your message in an inverted pyramid structure, answer all the 5 Ws – what, where, when, who and why, and 1 H – how in the first paragraph itself so that the journalists get hold of your message by skimming through the first paragraph itself. Don’t forget to make your title and first paragraph interesting. These will lead the readers to the latter part. Write your story well, link all the paragraphs so that none of them appear to be off-balance.

After the press conference hand over the press releases to the journalists – never distribute the release at the start of the programme, otherwise they won’t stay and listen to the speakers. Then fax the press release to all the media houses. Always remember to send the soft copy of your press release to the journalists. Sometimes, if you are lucky, your story is interesting and they are running out of time, next day you will see your full story in the media.

Pitch a story to media
It’s not always the reporters writing your story, but you can also try it the other way round. If you can play with the words well, then you can pitch your story to the media. Prior to pitching, make sure that you have a convincing story outline. Then identify the right media that would be interested in your story. Researching the media carefully, you need to find the right person to whom you can write a convincing email pitch. While pitching the story, you need to be patient and wait for the publication. Follow up your pitch if you receive the positive reply but your story is not published for long. There are lot many people like you who pitch their stories to media, and don’t forget they have their own able reporters.

You can also attract attention of the editor and your target audience by writing a letter to the editor about a feature article, op-ed or news piece related to the subject of your concern. You can at least talk about your concerns in short.

Collaborate with journalists
One of my bosses once told me that journalists are like wild horses, if you manage to ride them well, you will reach the destination. But if you are either in the front or back, the horse will kick you either on your back or right on your face. No offence to friends from media, but you must be able to maintain a working relationship with the journalists – never get too closer nor be farther – that’s the mantra to keep yourself and your stories in track.

You can follow groups of journalists (they are bunched up into groups like environmental, sports, energy, education, gender and so on) in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (just rummage through the friend lists and following lists of your connections). Get noticed by liking and adding sensible comments to their posts – you will build relations in no time.

One of the easiest ways to educate the journalists and imprint the subject in their minds, is organising a training on how to report on the subject of your concern for the reporters. If you request the editors for participation, they will obviously send some representatives from their media. In the process you will not only build the relations but will also arouse interest on your subject among the journalists. You can collaborate with journalists’ associations to hold such trainings.

Organise interaction programmes where experts from your subject and editors can have a dialogue on the subject. This will further push your agenda – the editors will be well aware of the issue and will be positive towards the stories/articles/news pieces filed by the reporters.

Perform stunts
Journalists, especially the photo journalists are always in the look out for interesting shots. If you organise an innovative stunt at a major public place and inform the friends from media – you are sure to get a good coverage.

Engage celebrities in your work, campaigns and stunts – it will be an added attraction for the shutterbugs!

1 comment:

  1. La komunikado en nuntempaj amasmedioj estas tre gravaj, sed oni devas bone elekti ilin.
    amike piotr el Polujo