The Art of Handling
the Media

The mass media offers you and your organization the widest reach to the mass public. The media informs, educates, influences and moulds public opinion. Thus if you have anything you want the public to know about you or your organization, the media will be your best and most effective channel of communication. Maintaining good media relations and handling the media in a variety of situations, is an art worth mastering.

Befriend the Media

  • The best approach to take towards the media is a friendly and pro-active one. Whatever other people may say to the contrary, my experience with the media has always been positive and has paid rich dividends for me and my clients.
  • The media exists to provide anyone an opportunity to voice an opinion which is of public interest. If you shy away from the media, you will lose the opportunity to communicate your organization’s story to the public and to the world.

Why You Need the Media

  • You want the public to know about your organization
  • You have a message to convey - a new product or service, changes in the company
  • You want to present a particular point of view, issue
  • You want to correct a point of view
  • You want to keep up a profile in the marketplace
  • To maintain communications with the public in crisis situations

When the Media Needs You

  • They need to know about your organization’s point of view regarding an issue, trend, an announcement
  • Want your expert opinion, your particular point of view in certain circumstances

Understand the Media and How They Work

  • You have to understand how the media in your country work, their objectives and expectations so that you can work within their system, their policies, parameters, timelines, programs schedules, etc

Have an Internal Media Relations Policy

  • Have an internal company media relations policy outlining key company spokesmen as well as the do’s and don’ts in media relations
  • Prepare media handling guidelines for key spokesmen during media interviews

Have a Media Database

  • Have a comprehensive list of all the media organizations relevant to your company - the print and electronic media. Include the names, designation, emails, telephone numbers of key media personnel, specialist reporters and appropriate columnists relevant to your industry. This list will be useful for sending out media releases, media invitations to company media briefings and other events. This information must be updated regularly.
  • Identify the specific sections in the newspapers or magazines or specific programs on Radio or TV in which your company can be featured eg on a Talk Show, Money Matters, Entertainment Page etc.

Key Media People To Know

Newspapers , Trade Journals, News Agencies

  • Business Editor
  • News Editor
  • Assignment Editor
  • Features Editor
  • City Editor
  • Specialist writers in your industry
  • Bureau Chief
  • Advertising Director

Build Rapport with the Media

  • Organize media luncheons regularly to introduce your Heads of Departments and top Managers to key media representatives to build rapport with them and to find out how you can serve each other’s interests
  • You can take the initiative to suggest story ideas to reporters that will be of public interest.
  • Invite reporters to your office for a tour of your facility to help them understand your business and any issues involved which affect the interests of the public.

Preparing Media Messages

Answer the 4 W’s and 1 H

  • W - what is your message?
  • W - who is your target audience?
  • W - what is your objective?
  • W - when is the best time to send the media release?
  • H - how best are you going to do it? Which media channel are you going to use?

Message and Medium

Prepare the message to fit the media selected.

  • Media Invite
  • Media release
  • Media conference
  • One-on-one interview
  • The telephone interview

The Effective Media Invite

The following are useful guidelines when sending out inviations to the media

  • Company logo on official letterhead
  • Mention Media Invite and Date right at the top below the letterhead
  • Address it to News Editor/Business Editor depending on your news
  • Opening paragraph spells out the gist of the event
  • Mention the date, time and venue
  • Details of the event next in one paragraph
  • Include a quote from chief spokesman
  • Make it a one pager
  • Full contact details for RSVP

The Effective Media Release

  • Company logo on official letterhead
  • Mention Media Release and Date of the release to be published right at the top below the letterhead
  • Address it to News Editor/Business Editor depending on your news
  • Opening paragraph spells out the gist of the event - who, what, why, how and when?
  • Details of the Media Release next two or three paragraphs
  • Include a quote from chief spokesman
  • Make it a two pager
  • Full contact details of person to contact for further information

Effective Follow-up

  • Send media release by email AND fax to all media on the embargo date
  • Call on the same day to the news/business desk to find out if they received it and if they will publish it
  • You can speak to the news editor or business editor for confirmation
  • Monitor the media for coverage
  • Persistent calls pay off

Preparing to Meet the Media

Accept or Decline a Media Interview?

When approached by the media for an interview, before you decide, ask these questions:

  • Where will it appear, which page, program, section and when?
  • Readership and listenership?
  • What is the main objective of the article or program?
  • Where is the interview to be held?
  • Work with Corporate Affairs Department (if there is one) in preparing for the interview

Maximize Your Media Opportunities

  • Announcements - appointments
  • Launch and re-launch of products and services
  • Loan signings
  • Offer to write an advisory column
  • Offer to talk on…..
  • Accept to appear as a panelist on talk shows
  • Create a special program on TV and Radio
  • You-tube

Preparing for A Media Interview

  • Ask the journalist for list of questions
  • You can offer to provide a list a questions which is better
  • Discuss with relevant Heads and Corporate Affairs to ensure your response is appropriate and comprehensive
  • What is your company’s key message and stand; write this down
  • Write down the main points to be covered
  • Have statistics at hand for reference
  • Practice your answers with an authoritative person and listen to the feedback

Media Interview Tips - Do’s

  • Be friendly, professional and relaxed
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer them satisfactorily
  • If unclear, ask journalist to clarify his question
  • Give examples, statistics
  • Remember you are there to add value, to give your company’s perspective
  • Provide information in a convincing way
  • Be open and honest
  • Provide a written copy of your answers, relevant company information and photos to help the journalist write a good story

Media Interview Tips - Don’ts

  • Don’t second guess a question
  • Don’t hard sell your company
  • Don’t be evasive
  • Don’t comment on competitors
  • Don’t get side-tracked, time is precious to make your point
  • Never give “off the record” remarks, comments or information
  • Don’t lose your cool

Body Language and Facial Expressions

  • Every move is being watched - every frown, smile, nod and eye movement
  • Don’t fidget in your seat or fidget with your pen
  • Sit up straight, keep attention focused
  • Vary your tone, keep topic interesting
  • Appear relaxed, confident but not arrogant. Convey your key points early in the interview
  • If interrupted, try to come back and finish your point
  • Use your final words to make a strong point
  • Don’t consult notes

Media Handling Training for Key Spokesmen

Successful companies realize the crucial importance of communicating their company story to their valued publics. The more communicative and transparent a company is, the better rapport and goodwill it enjoys with its publics. Company spokespersons thus have the challenging task of presenting corporate information with accuracy and credibility bearing in mind corporate and industry disclosure guidelines.

Media Handling Training Objectives

  • To equip key spokesmen with practical tools and techniques to help them deal effectively with the media in a variety of situations.

To enable them to handle with ease and confidence, one-on-one media interviews, media conferences, Radio, TV, Telephone Interviews, in situations specific to the company business environment.

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