Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Developing Good Relationships With Media

The key to working effectively with the media is to build good relationship with journalists. Find out which local reporters write about issues that relate to your work. Get to know them , find out what sort of stories they are interested in. Then when you have a story you can send it directly to them, and follow up with phone call. This is often more effective than sending out general press releases.
  • Most journalists, except the few who are involved with very specialised and technical fields, are interested in stories of individuals' experiences. Avoid sending lengthy, dull reports and policy documents into interesting short stories focusing on the people involved.
  • When press conferences are necessary, keep them short and be very clear about the message you want to give. Do not bore journalists with long speeches about your organization.
  • Press releases should be short and contain the most important information in the first paragraph. Journalists are often more likely to use a story if it is already written in the style and length of artcile appropriate to their publication.
  • It is very helpful for organizations to have a dedicated staff member who can deal with the media. The person is usually known as Press Officer or Information Officer. He or she should be trained on how to communicate with the media and be able to develop useful relationship with them. If your organization cannot such a post, a senior person in the organization for carrying out the this important work.
  • Although it is a good idea to take the initiative in sharing information avoid making constant demand for media attention. Do not organize unnecessary press conferences or media lunches or try to attract cheap publicity for your organization, as this may mean the media may not take you seriously.
  • Never allow your organization to be pushed into a situation where you have to pay for stories about your good works to be printed or boadcast. Be carefull about any gift you may make to journalists.
  • Respond as quickly and as accurately as possible to queries from media organizations. Be honest.
  • in difficult situations, don't be afraid to refuse to answer a question. Try to avoid unhelpful responses such as 'No comment'. When in doubt, ask for a time to provide a better and accurate response. Be firm but polite.