Rebecca Ladbury and Pavla Kopecna © Benjie Croce 2010
"What are the key things you need to do to get a journalist interested in your story?" This was the opening question put to the Media Sandbox participants this morning by Ladbury PR.
Rebecca Ladbury and Pavla Kopecna visited the Pervasive Media Studio to talk participants through how to approach their projects in terms of PR. I scribbled down the key considerations:
What’s your story?
Practise writing your story into a press release, limit your copy to one side of A4:
- The first paragraph should sum up the project.
- The second and third should flesh out the detail (including any credits).
- The final paragraph should sum it up again.
The purpose of a press release is to act as a catalyst to motivate journalists to want more.
Who do you want to tell your story to and to what purpose?
- What media do you want to target? (broadcast, print, online)
- Which journalists or presenters are you interested in targeting?
Research their style, notice the pattern of their style and use that as inspiration when writing your press release.
- Get a press pack together including your press release, images, quotes, recent stats, biographies and the key protatganists who will be available for interview. Be able to define your project in one sentence. Have everything ready to tell.
- Recognise that you’ll have different appeal to different press outlets and be ready to define your project for different audiences.
- And remember - everyone is important from local blogs to Newsnight - you never know where your story will be picked up.
How do you prepare for a media interview?
- Prepare three key messages that you want to communicate to the journalist.
- Never say anything you didn’t mean to say.
- Practise - tell your story to someone not in your project world (like your mum?) and see if they get it.
- Today media is rapid and sound-bitey - what’s your sound bite takeaway? Record yourself in 20 seconds talking about your project.
- Remember your audience.
- Be clear, concise and don’t assume knowledge - think about the language your using and don’t let the journalist translate for you.
- Evidence your points, "We're doing this because…"
- Sit up, be serious and don’t be defensive, be open and honest.
- Know what other projects are out there that are similar to yours -journalists will often compare your project, in response be clear, illustrate what your doing and why.
Remember, you want to motivate people to find out more about your project.
Lots of people undertake media training to deal with interviews, (listen to politicians on Radio 4’s Today programme and you’ll soon spot the patterns). There are language devices you can use to bridge the conversation back to your three key messages:
- The real issue here is…
- The important thing to remember is
- What the research/ordinary people tell us is….
- The fact of the matter is….
- That’s not true
- That may have been the case in the past…but now
- I don’t know about that …but what I do know is…
- That’s a question we would also like the answer to
- I can’t tell you that because the information is confidential but…
And don’t under estimate the power of twitter and the blogger. Journalists use Twitter all the time and blogs increasingly influence news features.
Don't go 'off duty' before or after the interview. While the journalist is with you, even walking to the lift, they are still working.
Rebecca and Pavla suggested we watch this interview as an example of how not to do it.
A brillant and informative session. Big thanks to Ladbury PR.