Posts Tagged ‘Media relations’

Media Relations – your key to passing crisis 101

February 10, 2014

imageCrisis 101. Regrettably that’s as far as even the most advanced communications professional in the Caribbean gets. Possibly it can be considered fortunate to learn about crisis management only in the classroom but that fortune quickly runs out when your company is thrown under public scrutiny for an accident or incident.

Two years post the Ca (more…)


Did You say Thanks?

October 19, 2009

Do you express gratitude? One of the most powerful phrases  in human relations is “Thank You”. However, few seem to do it well. Media relations for example cannot be built on one or two “media appreciation” parties a year. You staff won’t be a team if you simply wait until end of year reviews to say well done.

This week take up the challenge to actually make eye to eye contact  with some one and give a heartfelt thank you. Went to a great lecture or read a good article – write a testimonial to the author/ editor. Or, rediscover the dying art of handwriting – write a thank you note and shock the hell out of someone – mail it! Effort should always be appreciated and in this world of “fast” and “digital” – a good old fashioned thank you is still appreciated.

Remember, no one HAS to do ANYTHING for you so anything someone does that makes your day/ week/ life/ career a bit more pleasurable should be appreciated.

Are you Effective if the Media Coverage is Bad?

October 14, 2009

We’ve all been there. Hard work, improved media relations and significant employee communication make us seem like veritable “must haves” at an organization…then the winds of change blow and BOOM all the talk is negative. I’m no stranger to this. 8 days into my last job, I was thrust before a schlew of cameras to brief the media on a pretty big accident on a construction site. The job before that, I worked at a hospital (you class=”mceItemHidden”> do the math on the publicity good and bad). Inevitably in these negative times, someone will say – what’s the point of a Communications Unit if the media coverage is bad? That’s your time to shine. It’s time to prove your value.

Communicators, let’s be real. Everyone thinks our job is easy. Dress nice. Take some pics. Be nice to the media to get coverage and you’re in. The reality is few people even on your Executive team (if you’re lucky enough to be in the room with them) understand or REALLY care about your work. They care about what you bring to the table and since it ain’t revenue, you gotta prove yourself. So, when the coverage is bad, here are some tips to help ensure the Company values your energy and, more importantly, the real story gets covered.

  1. Get the Facts out to Your Staff: Fact: lawyers shut up communicators. Fact: Saying nothing can lead you to a lawsuit. Fact: Saying the wrong thing can lead you down the same path. So, what do you do? There is ALWAYS something you CAN SAY. You may be unable to place your statements in writing/ email but then hold a meeting with your staff (at  the very least your top management) to share the facts and at least 3 talking points;
  2. Get Feedback & Build Talking Points: Ok, they heard the basics – what do your staff think? If you CAN answer their questions , it will prepare you for public discussions (which, guess what? They’ll start anyway!) so – use their feedback to craft 1-3 core messages on the topic. Ensure they receive this info and have it ready AT ALL TIMES to answer in response to queries;
  3. Talk to Your Key Media  People: If you have earned the media’s respect, at the very least, you’ll get a call letting you know there’ll be a story and requesting a quote. If you can’t give one on the record, there are still ways you can help. Now, this depends on your relationship with the reporters – talking off the record is not for the weak hearted or inexperienced – note, you CANNOT share anything you are not authorized too but perhaps there are tips, angles approaches you can suggest that can help the media get the “right story” without compromising yourself. Have your CEO/ Company head sanction these approaches before hand – don’t move by the “seat of your pants or you’ll get up tomorrow without a pair!
  4. Talk to With Your Staff (Wait – is this a repeated point?): Your staff are your KEY COMMUNICATORS! Guaranteed if the media can’t get a story out of you, they’ll call your company a few times to try to shake facts out of your junior people. I know. I worked for a media house once (super briefly). Sooooo – have them track enquiries on the issue at hand OR better yet, do spot “walk bys” or discussions to get their sense on how the issue is being handled, how they feel and their suggestions on containing same.

How does this prove value?  Ever saw the movie Doubt? When the priest compared gossip to goose feathers being scattered in the air  and showcases the difficulty in retrieving same?  Its the same with Communication – you send those messages out to your staff and work with them – constantly asking for feedback and no matter what, the “feathers” of the “right messages” will be disseminated. The doubters may not see the goose – but they’ll remember the feathers and in the end, the feathers offer more comfort and ultimately more value.

If that analogy soared over your head – have no fear. You can also simply track the media stories that include even a snippet of the “right” information from your ONE media release or talking points. Keep a diary of your media discussions and, yes, share same upon request. Nothing shows an accountant value more than a chart with some numbers and basic info!


Got Media? How to Appease the ‘Media Wanters’ & the Media

October 13, 2009

So you want media coverage of your next activity. You’ve heard it – “get the media to cover this”- uttered of course by, not usually the CEO, but usually the event coordinator, Marketing Department or worse, individual who has done ONE PR course and now TOTALLY gets the power of media. Newsflash – media don’t just “show up” to any and all events. There has to be NEWS there.

News? What’s that? Well, a loose Communications Questions definition is “information or activity being shared for the first time or in a way never seen before” – GET IT? News is not the same people, speaking in the SAME venue with the SAME info time and time again. Ever had a “press conference” (BTW wrong term – it should be MEDIA Conference – most papers don’t even use the “press” any more) and the media don’t show up or WORSE, leave! Well, if you have, its because you did not follow the ABC of media coverage.

A: ASK, Advise, Advocate

  • Ask: Do not confuse this A with “Assume”. In fact, its the opposite. ASK yourself & your fellow “media wanters” the 5 ws and 1 h. Answer from both YOUR perspective AND that of the media – why should they turn up and what’s in it for the media/ their audience. If there is advance time, ask a few editors/ reporters how you can make the event/ activity of interest to them – what would they like to know/ hear/ do that would make the 454th media conference/ event/ speech/ dinner they attend on that day most interesting to them? Note: Food and drinks are nice but do not entice assignment editors – DON”T confuse a “lime” with WORK! Once you answer the 5ws and 1 h, turn them into an ADVISORY;
  • Advise: Ahh…. All hail the Communicator who knows the difference between an ADVISORY and a RELEASE (both preceded by the word MEDIA not PRESS). For the rest of you a MEDIA ADVISORY is sent out IN ADVANCE Of the activity/ event/ activity. It is sent in a such a time frame to adequately allow the assignment editor to ADVISE his team of reporters and…GUESS WHAT…possibly even allow for MEDIA REGISTRATION…shock of shocks…this way you CAN know exactly which  reporters AND photographers are assigned to cover your event. Imagine that power – to text them an “on the day reminder” and send them a follow up thank you – all because you followed this step – TO ADVISE. (Note, implied in this step is follow up beyond media advisory dispatch – as in a PHONE CALL and taking of names of those who received. Labour intensive? Please! Followup is some of the best way to use pre-activity time. It makes a difference! Trust me! Oh, fyi – a media release is different to a media advisory because its sent out at or after the event/ activity. In some cases however, they may be despatched before and “embargoed” until a certain times.

Note, also advise  the feature speaker of which reporters and media houses have indicated they will be present. You       never know if the presentations can be tweaked slightly to cater to some reporters (usually only senior one’s) needs/ interests/ advance questions.

  • ADVOCATE: Not just for your company in your follow up pitch calls to the media the day before and on event day

B: Be – polite, timely, beautiful & ready

  • Be Polite: You have your key officials greet the specially invited guests and SO OFTEN I see events with no one assigned to meet/ greet the media. HELLO! WTF – didn’t you “need them there”?  I don’t know them all but I generally know the names and media houses of the more senior reporters on my beat . Note though that in today’s media houses, this can change rapidly…guess who’s job it is to know the changes….(scroll up to the ask and advise section – the suggestions here can help you with this.
  • Be Beautiful & Ready: Have your media release and agenda ready for them as they walk in. Take a moment (if possible) to discuss with each media house present. Suggest best locations (or prearranged location) for cameras. Tell them your feature speakers “best side”. Give them the heads up on whether questions will be entertained after the main event. Put yourself in the shoes of a reporter – wouldn’t all that info up front make your job a little easier on the day. Have the $? Prepare a digital media release – or you can do my secret and….wait a minute, if I reveal EVERYTHING next thing you know I am unemployed! Find your own signature – better yet, scroll up to the ASK section and find ideas on how you can put your own signature on your media relations.

Challenge to Stay on Time

  • Ensure your presentation/ event/ activity runs on time. If it does and media are in and captured their story in 45 minutes, they’re happy AND most likely to partake in the thousands of dollars spent on food/ drinks/ snacks/ gift items (all icing on the cake). Run late, they not just WANT to leave but HAVE TO! In Trinidad for example, ever notice how many events our print media photographers cover in one night! Jeez! Challenge you speakers and coordinators to stay on time. The media will appreciate and ultimately so will your audience. Guess what? NO ONE likes a lengthy speech – Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech was 17 minutes long. President Barack Obama’s famous “Race Speech” was just over 9 minutes long (notice his abbreviated acknowledgement of protocol – encourage you speakers to as well!). Unless either of your speaker can speak like them – ain’t nothing they can say that will keep attention for more than 9-10 minute max!

With those tips, a well briefed cadre of speakers and yes, an MC or coordinator who understands the importance of timeliness, you’re on your way to at least making the media who attended happy. Last tip – don’t drag out your activities! There are FEW things our media professionals have not seen before and NO ONE wants to see the same thing again and again and again. For example: I had a junior colleague call me to enquire on the best way to ‘handle’ media at a 4 hour tour – HELLO! 4 hours? NOTHING IS INTERESTING FOR 4 Hours…too much action in over 2 hours can kill you too – see Transformers 2…

What comes after? Hopefully coverage, but more than that, with any luck, you earn an iota of respect from the media. Why? They are professionals and you treated them as same. Maybe next time you’re company is on the firing line, they may give you a ring before printing the story? Don’t expect it – WORK TOWARDS that.

That’s it for today (long enough). Go forth and communicate for change!