Parents for children s mental health
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Parents for Children’s Mental Health. You, PCMH and the Media How to Tell your Story Michele Sparling and Suzanne Sherkin. PCMH – Who are We. PCMH is the only provincial non-profit parent-led organization that provides a voice

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Parents for children s mental health

Parents for Children’s Mental Health

You, PCMH and the Media

How to Tell your Story

Michele Sparling and Suzanne Sherkin

Pcmh who are we

PCMH – Who are We

PCMH is the only provincial non-profit parent-led organization that provides a voice

for families that face challenges of child and youth mental health issues.

PCMH envisions a future in which children and youth with mental illness enjoy a high quality

of life in welcoming and supportive


Who are the media

Who are ‘the Media’?

The media are a means of communication.

Events, issues, opinions and views are communicated to viewers,

listeners, and readers.

  • Print

    • Newspapers

    • Magazines

  • Broadcast

    • TV

    • Radio

  • Non-traditional

    • Blogs

    • Internet (YouTube)

    • Pod-casting / Webinars

    • e-Newsletters

All media have a structure

All Media have a Structure

What you need to know

What you Need to Know

  • Type of reporter / journalist:

    • News reporter

    • Current Affairs reporter

    • Columnist

    • Community Events

  • Hard news (e.g. earthquake, war, vs. soft news (special interest – quadruplets, hero)

  • Contacts information for other sources

  • When are media deadlines (a.k.a. news cycle)

What does the media w ant

What Does the Media Want

  • A story based on bad news OR good news

  • Connections between a story and their audience / readership

  • Sound bites / quips / quotes

  • Pictures / video

  • To tell THEIR story

  • Trusted content from reliable sources

  • Readership / Viewership / Listeners

Approaching the media

Approaching the Media

There are 2 approaches to making the news:

Reactive and Proactive

  • You’re being reactive when the media calls you to respond to a question or a situation

  • You’re being proactive when you contact the media to create news or suggest a story

In reactive mode b reathe

In Reactive mode – Breathe!

When you get a call from the media, be prepared to:

  • Ask them to call back so you can collect your thoughts

  • Be clear about what media outlet is calling

  • Know the PCMH key messages

  • Respond only when and IF you feel qualified

  • Review the ‘YOU, PCMH and the Media’ guide

In proactive mode practice

In Proactive mode – Practice!

Contacting the media to tell your story can feel like a personal triumph, but if it’s not handled well, it can turn out badly. Before you call:

  • Know what you want to achieve

  • Practice telling your story – script it, don’t wing it

  • Be brief and impactful

  • Clarify the value of the story and how it’s relevant

Why tell y our story

Why Tell your Story

  • Coverage of an issue or an event

  • Recognition for the brand (i.e. PCMH)

  • Allows PCMH to be seen as an expert

  • Increases interest / awareness in an issue

  • Attracts members / funders / champions

  • Can affect change

    “Clear + simple + powerful = memorable”

Is your story an event or issue

Is your Story an Event or Issue

  • Is it original or new?

  • Is it connected with celebrities or politicians?

  • Is it different, special, unique?

  • Is it community-related?

  • Are you telling the audience something new?

  • Do you want to create an emotional impact?

  • So you want to create an effect on many people?

    The BIGGER the NUMBERS – the BIGGER the STORY!

Attracting the media to your story

Attracting the Media to your Story

  • Win an award

  • Host or sponsor an event

  • Do research, publish the results

  • Connect the story to the economy, health, education or pop culture

  • Tie your story into current events

  • Connect to broad appeal and human interest

  • Get to know reporters and editors and pitch to them.

When to tell your story

When to Tell your Story

  • Many newspapers need a story by supper time

  • Television and radio story meetings are generally in the morning

  • Online sources may vary with degree of urgency and currency

    “Time waits for no one.

    Miss the moment, miss the story.”

Supplementing your story

Supplementing your Story

  • Media advisory

  • News release – written or video

  • Pitch sheet

  • Fact sheets

  • Reports

  • Letter to the editor

Communicate with clarity

Communicate with Clarity

Anytime you speak with the media, your words can be used. There is no such thing as ‘off the record’.

Be aware of EVERYTHING you say.

  • Use words that are clear and direct

  • Use words carefully

  • Confirm that you have been understood accurately

  • Avoid using words that sound negative, judgemental or can be misunderstood as stigmatizing

Sharing your passion

Sharing Your Passion

  • What is the purpose for telling your story

  • Think about whether you are the best one to tell it

  • Assess your degree of readiness

  • Can you tell the story in different ways?

    • Verbally

    • In writing

    • Through photography

    • With a video

    • In art

Sharing your story

Sharing Your Story

  • Think about the story angle of the reporter

  • Know the audience you’re targeting

  • Have a hook

  • Have 3 to 4 key messages

  • Have an arresting quote or sound bite

  • Know the information about PCMH

Time to practice

Time to Practice

Telling your story effectively starts with developing a good structure then practicing it.

  • Shape it around a Beginning, Middle and End

  • Be clear about your main point

  • Keep it short and relevant to the audience/situation

  • Be aware of the words you choose

  • Be conscious of your body language and tone

  • Know how you’re coming across

Last words

Last Words…

  • Practice, practice, practice

  • Stay focused and stay on your message

  • Keep your emotion in check.

  • Put your personal story in a larger context

  • Don’t take it personally if your story is not used

  • Consistency is critical – in words, tone and info

  • Remember to talk about PCMH

  • YOU know your story, the reporter does not.

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