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MASTERING THE MEDIA SOAR - McKnight Foundation 2009 Minnesota Workshop Mastering the Media: Workshop Overview Day 1 Understanding how the media thinks and works How do generate positive news coverage and respond to negative stories

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mastering the media


SOAR - McKnight Foundation

2009 Minnesota Workshop

mastering the media workshop overview
Mastering the Media:Workshop Overview

Day 1

  • Understanding how the media thinks and works
  • How do generate positive news coverage and respond to negative stories
  • Shaping your coverage: Developing a successful message strategy

Day 2

  • Guidelines for giving great interviews.
  • Interviewing practice and critique
why work with the news media
Why Work With the News Media?
  • Increases visibility/name recognition/ understanding of mission, agency credibility
  • Raises awareness / public education
  • Influences policy
  • Triggers donations
understanding the media
Understanding the Media
  • What makes journalists tick?
  • What is news?
  • Ingredients of a great story
getting to know journalists
Getting to Know Journalists
  • TV, print, radio, online, freelancers
  • Beats
  • Audiences
  • Deadlines
what makes news
What makes news?
  • Breaking stories
  • Big events
  • Big numbers
  • New twists on ongoing or old news
  • Conflict, controversy and tragedy
  • Success and achievement
  • The bizarre, unique and unusual
  • Interesting, influential, successful & talented people
  • Ordinary people who do extraordinary things
  • Local relevance
  • New statistics, reports, trends and findings
  • Follow-up and analysis of major events
  • Feel good stories / human interest
  • Openings, closings, beginnings and ends
ingredients of a great story
Ingredients of a Great Story

Good news stories contain:

  • News, Context, Impact and Human Dimension

Journalists look for:

  • A “story within the story”
  • “Moving stories” that show change and results
  • Compelling characters and storytellers: dynamic, informed, articulate individuals
  • Interesting and powerful visuals audio
generating news coverage
Generating News Coverage
  • Get to know the reporters who cover your patch
  • Build relationships with key journalists
  • Keep good lists
  • Suggest stories to reporters
  • Promote your experts
  • Offer reaction, quotes, background information, access, images, video
  • Be responsive when reporters contact you
  • Invite reporters to events, briefings, program activities, lunch
pitching stories to media
Pitching Stories to Media
  • Cold calls
  • Emails
  • Advisories / invitations
  • Daybooks and other listings
  • Press Releases
  • Statements
  • News Conferences / briefings
elements of a good press release
Elements of a Good Press Release
  • Have a clear focus and objective before you start writing
  • Make sure your topic is newsworthy and relevant
  • Write a headline that grabs attention and encapsulates the focus
  • Craft a powerful lead sentence or paragraph that summarizes the most vital information
  • Include short and strong quotes by your key spokesperson
  • Add interesting data and real life examples that illustrate main points
more elements of a great press release
More Elements of a Great Press Release
  • Write for the media
  • Avoid jargon
  • Include release date
  • Provide detailed contact information
  • Include clear and brief description of your organization and web site
  • Double check facts, spelling and grammar
produce your own media
Produce Your Own Media
  • Blog
  • Tweet
  • Video and photos
  • Photo essays
  • Op-eds and commentaries
  • B-roll
preparing for interviews
Preparing for Interviews

Gathering information before the interview about the interview will help ensure its success! Find out answers to the following questions:

  • What type of media is it?
  • What’s the topic?
  • What’s the reporter’s angle?
  • Who is the reporter, what’s his/her style?
  • What’s the audience of the paper, station or site?
  • What’s the format of the story?
  • What’s the deadline?
  • If it’s broadcast, will it be live or recorded?
  • Who else is the reporter talking to for the story?
before the interview
Before the Interview
  • Let the reporter know your area of expertise and the subjects that you are comfortable talking about.
  • Refer the reporters to others who are in a better position to speak to topics outside of your area of expertise.
  • Try to anticipate the reporter’s questions and have answers in mind.
  • Think about negative angles and ways to respond positively.
preparing for interviews15
Preparing for Interviews
  • Define your goal. Ask yourself what key issues you want to communicate.
  • Develop clear, simple and quotable written messages that support your goal and support your key points.
  • Practice your answers aloud.
  • Think ahead about one or two interesting personal stories or anecdotes that will illustrate your main points.
  • Collect relevant data to have on hand.
developing messages
Developing Messages

The four Cs of developing messages:

  • CLEAR and simple messages are critical. Repeat them in as many ways as you can.
  • CONVERSATIONAL language helps you connect to your audience. Remember that you’re speaking to the reader or viewer. Make it meaningful.
  • COMPELLING messages make an impact. Use strong examples, interesting analogies and hard data. Use colorful, descriptive and active words.
  • CONCISE sentences are far more quotable.
interview tips
Interview Tips
  • Every interview is an opportunity to talk about your organization’s work and impact. Don’t waste the opportunity!
  • Avoid all acronyms.
  • Do not guess if you don’t know an answer and always tell the truth.
  • Be colorful, but don’t exaggerate.
interview tips18
Interview Tips
  • Use figures, but cite the source if it’s not your own data.
  • Don’t ever say “no comment.”
  • Get personal and share anecdotes.
  • Don’t state personal opinion; you represent your organization.
  • Don’t get too chatty. You’ll get off message.
interview tips19
Interview Tips
  • Only give “background” interviews to reporters you trust will keep you anonymous.
  • Repeat yourself until you’re satisfied with your answer.
  • Stay on message. Stick to your goals.
  • Tell a reporter you have more to add or that you want to expand on a point if there’s something you forgot to say, or if the reporter overlooks something important.
managing an interview
Managing an Interview
  • Don’t let the reporter control the interview. Stay focused on the story that you want to tell and lead the direction of the interview.
  • Stick to your talking points!
  • Don’t wait for a reporter to ask you questions your key issues, find ways to work them into your responses.
  • If asked a series of questions, concentrate on answering the one best suited to your objectives.
handling tough questions
Handling Tough Questions
  • If a reporter’s questions are negative, sensitive or problematic, or if a reporter is trying to force you to say something that you don’t want to say - acknowledge the question with a short answer and steer the conversation back to your key messages.
  • If asked to speculate, say you rather stick to facts.
  • Always stay calm, don’t angry and never pick a fight with a reporter.
  • Amid continued antagonism, you can politely terminate an interview.
bridging example
Bridging Example

Question: There are extremely high rates of unemployment among refugees here and most are on welfare. What do you say to critics who say refugees are a burden to the community.

Short Answer: Times are clearly difficult for everyone and jobs are scarce.

Bridge: But what’s important to note is that

Key message: Refugees don’t have the luxury of waiting for the economy to improve. Resettlement saves lives, it’s one of the country’s most of the noble traditions and it would be a real shame to compromise our values because of a recession. We’ve weathered economic storms before and we’ll do it again. Refugees have always been an asset and even an economic engine to communities if given the chance and some basic tools.

bridging phrases
Bridging Phrases
  • The important point is….
  • What’s being overlooked is…
  • Our priority now is…
  • That’s an important issue, but let’s not forget…
  • That’s an important issue, which is why there needs to be more programs that focus on…
  • It’s always good to remember that…
  • Another issue that I’d like to stress is…
the close down
The “Close Down”

For when you simply can’t talk about something.

  • Sorry, I’m a humanitarian aid worker, that’s just not something I’m qualified to talk about.
  • I’m afraid I’m not able to talk about specific clients for confidentiality reasons.
  • I help refugees find jobs. I’m just not in a position to comment on criminal investigations.
  • I only know what I’ve read in the news. You might want to talk to...
broadcast interview tips
Broadcast Interview Tips
  • Speak slowly, clearly and forcefully
  • Drink water or tea in advance. Keep a glass nearby.
  • Find a quiet spot.
  • Turn off cell phones.
  • For TV, look professional. Wear solid colors. Avoid hats that shade the face.
after the interview
After the Interview
  • Provide reporter with your card.
  • Get reporter’s contact details
  • Give reporter your publicity materials and fact sheets.
  • Ask about including web site or donation information in report.
  • Invite follow-up questions
  • Present additional story ideas & invite future collaboration
protection and the media guidelines for irc staff
Protection and the Media: Guidelines for IRC Staff
  • The interests of the people we assist are to be protected over any other consideration, including advocacy.
  • Secure permission by beneficiaries for all interviews, videotaping and photographs.
  • Ensure that the individual knows he or she is talking to a reporter and what it means to be part of a story that might be disseminated locally and globally.
protection and the media
Protection and the Media
  • Brief reporters in advance of an interview on relevant cultural issues and sensitivities. Explain what kinds of questions, comments or actions would be insensitive to local cultural values, inappropriate, could expose a beneficiary to humiliation, cause potential danger and retribution or reactivate a his/her pain and grief from traumatic events. Ask the reporter to avoid such lines of questioning.
  • Should a beneficiary volunteer such information, ask a reporter to be cognizant of the implications his/her reportage when using the quotes.
protection and the media29
Protection and the Media
  • Ask the reporter to pay attention to where and how the person is interviewed and try to make certain that he/she is comfortable and able to tell his or her story without outside pressure.
  • If possible, gain permission from parents, guardians or relatives for interviews with minors on sensitive issues.
protection and the media30
Protection and the Media

Ask reporters to change the name,obscure the visual identity and/or refrain from citing the exact location of any beneficiary who is:

  • A victim of sexual abuse or exploitation, unless it is an adult who wants to tell his or her story publicly
  • A perpetrator of physical or sexual abuse or violent crime
  • A person who is HIV positive or living with AIDS, unless the adult refugee or the guardian of the child gives fully informed consent
  • Or who asks not to be identified for other personal reasons