Getting Media Coverage

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Number ONE is building relationships. No matter the market size, there are more opportunities to get your story on TV than ever before. The days of only two daily newscasts are long gone. Most television stations have early morning, mid-day and early afternoon casts in addition to the traditional 6 and 11 p.m. or 10 p.m. shows. They are hungry for excellent features. You can get YOUR story on the air.

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For now, here is a tactic – plus advice from the National Association of Broadcasters, which may be helpful – we have often used to build those relationships and – in fact – even received “side bars” on our approach. Here goes from The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook page 281 (Media Relations):

In-service For Reporters

A rarely used, but accepted and encouraged method among strategic communicators is the “in-service” for media members covering a long-term story or special event. A New Jersey school district that had lost nearly a dozen bond and budget referenda over several years determined that neither the public nor the media understood the issues.

The public relations professional and school administrators invited media to a series of workshops spread out over several weeks. The workshops, over lunch (reporters do have to eat), lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Media outlets were encouraged to send any reporter who might cover the next referendum. A number of handouts – electronic and printed – were distributed and visuals were used freely.

Attendance was excellent. The message was communicated to the reporters who in turn took it to the public in terms the audiences could understand. Those in-services – cutting edge at the time – were considered successful because the district went on a “winning streak” at the polls. (A number of media outlets were so impressed, they decided to run [side bar] stories on what they considered a unique approach.)

Getting On The Air (page 320)

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) suggests that if your appeal is to be effective, you should have the answer to some key questions before contacting local stations: (Some refer to it as the MAC Triad – message, audience, channel.)

  •  What is your message? [message] Are you sure of the basic idea you want to communicate?
  • Who should receive your message? [audience] Is it of general interest to a large segment of the audience? Can it be tailored to reach a specific audience?
  • How can you best put your message across? [channel] Does it have enough general interest for a special program? Would a PSA serve just as well?

Your answers to these questions should help you determine in advance whether your pitch will work.

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