You need a media strategy that clearly identifies:
- the people you want to reach
- what you want to achieve from the media coverage
- the stories you want to get out via the media.
You need someone for the media to interview – the ‘talent’ (there is good and bad talent).
They need to be able to talk to the media in simple and direct terms.
The best talent speaks in word-pictures, using analogies, similes and metaphors.
The most senior person available is not necessarily the best person to talk to the media.
Choose someone who is involved in the research and comfortable with media interviews.
Media skills training will help develop talent.
A picture sells the story.
If you want to avoid stereotypical images of lab coats, test tubes and microscopes, make sure you have exciting visuals to offer the media.
Television wants action – machines with flashing lights that go clickety-bonk, or small children and animals.
Print media want people with interesting objects or scenery.
Radio loves talent who can create word-pictures for their listeners.
Look for the best angle of your story to ‘pull’ the attention and interest of experienced, time-poor journalists and editors.
This doesn’t mean you should exaggerate or sensationalise your story.
Look for the most interesting side to the story and use that to sell the full story.
Points on paper
Put the key points of the story down on paper – who, what, when, where, why and how.
You can write a full-blown media release or just a series of dot points, 1–2 pages in length.
Send it to each journalist. It will help them report your story as accurately as possible. Include contact numbers for the talent you have chosen to present the story and your media contact.
Once you have sent out the key points, follow up by calling the key journalists you want to cover the story.
This makes sure they know about the story and the opportunities it offers them.
In a media or newsroom, bits of paper and emails get lost and discarded.
When you make personal contact, you can be sure that the right journalist knows about the story. And you develop useful relationships.
The best talent often prepares for interviews by practising with people who do not know much about their work.
These people will generally ask the type of questions a journalist will ask:
- Who is involved in this research?
- Why is this research important?
- What have you done?
- How did you do this?
- When and where will the results be available?