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How to Work with the News Media to Tell Your Story

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  1. How to Work with the News Media to Tell Your Story

  2. What We’ll Cover • Why get coverage? • The basics: The “Golden Rules” of generating coverage • Determining what is newsworthy • Types of media

  3. What We’ll Cover continued • The art of the pitch • Tools of the trade • Building campaigns • Coordinating with the MIT News Office

  4. What We’ll Cover continued • Working with science journals • The view from Sloan • A journalist’s perspective • Q&A

  5. Why Get Coverage? • Visibility is crucial • Universities are more competitive • Validation: the value of buzz • Funding • Media awareness is an expectation in any communications position

  6. 10 Golden Rules for Coverage • Know what’s going on in the world. • Start with passion and conviction. • Be clear, concise and compelling. • Be above board. • Be accessible. • Keep it personal (no blast faxes)

  7. 10 Golden Rules for Coverage • Don’t waste people’s time. • Know the publication. • Keep great lists of contacts. • The value of MIT: we’re at the forefront of the science and technology revolution.

  8. What is Newsworthy? • Must have a hook! • New discovery • Release of a major study or report • Anniversary • Symposium

  9. What is Newsworthy? continued • Famous name • Major gift and/or new center • Big speaker • Offers an “insider’s view”

  10. What is Newsworthy? continued • Meets one of more of these qualities: • Changing the world • Solving real world problems • Unprecedented • Topical: ties into the national discourse • Makes a complex technology understandable

  11. What is Newsworthy? continued • Quirky • Can you regionalize it? • Does it have a Boston angle? • What do YOU think is cool?

  12. What is NOT Newsworthy? • Something that already happened. • “Kids doing interesting stuff”. • Routine promotions. • Most gifts. • Most awards. • Small, niche conferences/events.

  13. Who Do You Want to Reach? • What kind of news is it? • Who is the audience? • Who are your spokespeople? • When is it happening? • What’s on your own wish list?

  14. About the Media • Thousands of potential outlets • Immerse yourself in the media • Understand timing and deadlines • Constantly changing: keep current lists

  15. Newspapers • Print is not dead • Most influential: Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal • Reporters vs. editors • Beat reporters, features, op-ed, columnists • City desks for breaking news

  16. Magazines • There are over 13,000 magazines in the U.S. • General interest consumer • Specialized consumer • Business • Trade

  17. Magazines • MIT focus: science, technology, business, but trying to broaden • Special sections and editorial calendars • Timing/Lead Times • 3-4 months for monthlies • 3-4 weeks for weeklies

  18. Television • Primary news source for 69% of Americans (source: TVA) • News broadcasts (local and national) • News shows • Talk shows • Science/Technology-specific shows • Documentaries

  19. Television continued • Live vs. taped • Visual components required • Charismatic, telegenic spokesperson • 3 minutes total; 15 second speaking points • Documentary film requests: rarely worth it

  20. Radio • NPR before Grand Rapids radio • Somewhat effortless: Often taped or live by office phone • Easier exposure for “experts”

  21. Online • Tools are new but old rules apply. • Wide exposure; fleeting vs. major impact • Mega news sites: CNN, MSNBC, NYTimes.com • Internet-only: Salon, Slate, CNET • Blogs

  22. Newswires • AP and Reuters stories syndicate to hundreds of papers/day. • Get one, they all call. • Real news wires vs. for-pay wires. • Must be big news.

  23. The Art of the Pitch • Distill it to its essence: What are the 3 most important points? • Remember: • What is the news? • Who does it impact? • Why should a journalists and his/her readers care?

  24. The Art of the Pitch continued • LCS 35th Anniversary: • On April 12, the MIT Lab for Computer Science will celebrate 35 years at a 2-day conference called “LCS 35”. Featured guests include Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, architect Frank Gehry, WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee, and emcee Bob Metcalfe.

  25. The Art of the Pitch continued • Project Oxygen press briefing: • Press briefing on Project Oxygen, an ambitious research program involving 250 researchers from the MIT LCS. • Project Oxygen goal: to develop a new breed of human-centered computers that will enable people to do more by doing less. • Oxygen will forge a new computing metaphor that will mark a radical shift in today’s desktop computing systems.

  26. The Art of the Pitch continued • MIT New Building Project: • MIT has embarked on one of the most ambitious building programs in American higher education. • The $1 billion effort will utilize the talents of some of the world’s finest architects and planners, including 3 Pritzker prize winners, and will involve more than a dozen major building projects and renovations.

  27. The Art of the Pitch continued • The end result of this bold effort will be a campus whose look and feel will be considerably transformed.

  28. Tools of the Trade • Tools: • News releases • Media alerts • Methods: • Email pitches • Voicemails

  29. Tools of the Trade • News release format: • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • Contact info • Headline • Dateline • Lead paragraph (sometimes 2) • (Quote) • Supporting text • Boiler plate

  30. Tools of the Trade • Media alert format: • What • When • Where (include maps) • RSVP • About • Contact • Other Important Details

  31. Tools of the Trade • Use the tools to support proactive efforts • Voicemails • Email pitches

  32. Building a Campaign • Broader mission than news • Multiple news, targets, types of awareness • Based on solid institute priorities

  33. Building a Campaign • What is important long term? • How do we want to be considered/identified? • Who do we want to reach? • Where will we have long term impact? • Where do we need awareness to support our goals?

  34. Building a Campaign continued • Current campaigns: • Biotech • Admissions • Cambridge Relations • Building Project

  35. Building a Campaign continued • Audiences • New News • Spokespeople

  36. Building a Campaign continued • Determine news • Look for broader topics or events • Create a timeline that maps both • News • Events • Outside events/happenings • Timely trends

  37. Building a Campaign continued • Determine targets and wish list • Pick a focus (too broad will be too hard) • Legitimize • Think strategically

  38. Building a Campaign continued • Explore other kids of coverage/awareness • Op-eds & bylined articles • Photo ops & event listings • Speaking/conferences • Return to – and always add to – the timeline • Aim for one external awareness “hit” per month