Tuesday, 12 June 2012

7 media trip essentials

Media trip is a time-tested tool for communicators to highlight the project successes. The journalists get to see and verify the first hand information, analyse the situation and report accordingly. You don’t need to put extra efforts to convince them to write on the subject.

Forming a small and diverse team
The team should be small – not more than seven members and should comprise journalists from all media: print, electronic and online. Make sure the journalists are from top ranking newspapers, television, radio and online portals.

Preparing a well planned itinerary
The itinerary should be planned well with all the meetings fixed ahead of the trip. The itinerary should be shared with the journalists well ahead. Make sure you set aside enough time for the real job and daily essentials like breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If your itinerary includes trekking or walking in rugged terrain, inform them of the duration and landscape. They will be prepared for it accordingly.

Briefing about the project
The journalists should be briefed well ahead of the trip. A backgrounder with all project details should be forwarded to the journalists at least a week ahead, so that they are well informed on the subject. Brochures, booklets, flyers and relevant project publications should be provided.

Besides, they should be informed of the weather and things to carry with them. They should also be informed about the tradition and culture of the place, so that they don’t end up dishonouring the local people and their culture.

Sticking to the story angle
The story angle should be decided well ahead and the coordinator should stick to it. The itinerary should be based on the story angle and the interviews should be scheduled accordingly. Meanwhile the journalists should be convinced to disseminate the story in the same way.

They will, in the most cases, highlight the humane interest stories. However, you should be careful enough to link your project objectives in the stories in a subtle manner.

Treating the participants with dignity
Treating the journalists well is a must. They should be made to feel at ease. However, the professional boundary should not cross the personal limits.

The stakeholders with whom the journalists will meet should be informed of the meeting in advance and they should be briefed ahead of the publications/channels they represent.

Following-up for stories
The journalists are busy with so many assignments and stories. You need to follow-up but in the mean time must make sure that you are not pushing them to publish the stories.

Sometimes they take time to gather the relevant information needed for their articles. Also you’ll need to check the statistics with the journalists. Sometimes the facts are exaggerated and in some cases under-reported.

Following-up for future relations
Just taking the journalists to the field, getting the stories published and closing the chapter is not enough. Relationship building is a must for future.

Once the journalists are interested in the issue, they will continue to write on that topic. However, they will need some leads to the stories. You will also need to pitch your interesting stories from time to time to get them published at regular intervals.