Recently, I served as a panelist at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Memphis chapter’s Broadcast Media Panel event. The panel consisted of Greg Hurst, WREG Channel 3 Anchor; Erika Draper, FOX 13 News Producer; Annette Peagler, Local 24 News Reporter; Adams Clemons, WMC Action News 5 Executive Producer/Assignment Manager; myself; and Karen Davis, PRSA Board Member and Communications Manager at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, who served as the panel moderator. During the event, we covered a wide range of topics, including information on each of our platforms and audiences, and key tips for working with our teams to garner more media coverage for organizations, events and efforts. We also discussed how each of us can help encourage the coverage of more good news; so, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key takeaways from the event in this week’s column.
When it comes to garnering media coverage, relationships and stories matter. Each of the panelists shared their willingness to talk with the community regarding their preferred methods of communication, the best days and times to receive pitches, how much lead time was needed, and what information they needed versus what would create distractions. Some preferred story ideas very early in the morning or late at night while others preferred them in the middle of the day. Some wanted only one email while others said more, especially as follow ups, were preferred. Almost everyone desired a direct, personal email or phone call versus a generic email, especially with recipients cc’d versus bcc’d. When it came down to the format, there also was consensus that it was best to include bullet points for the most pertinent information, like who, what, when, where, and why versus paragraphs or longer narratives where media professionals would have to search for it.
The more you can articulate the “why,” the reason your story or event is a good fit for the media outlet and their audience, the more success you’ll have in garnering coverage. For example, if you can include verbiage on how the event impacts the community, some of the people who will be available for interviews who have touching stories, or why a musician or business joined the effort due to their passion matching your purpose, it’ll make it easier for the media outlet and their staff to connect those dots and increase the likelihood of their covering the story. So, the key is spending time on the front end getting to know each of the media outlets and building relationships with their staff, then knowing and crafting your story, the “why,” and pitching it via their preferred communication style…perhaps even with an “exclusive!”
When it comes to encouraging the coverage of more good news, better articulating the “why” will help a lot. Understand that media is a business driven by numbers and impressions, so the more we all can share positive news stories on social media and comment on them, which further increases impressions, the more we’ll encourage these types of stories. Hand writing letters to the editors and station managers or sending emails that thank them for covering good news and encouraging them to do more, also help. The easier we can make it to share the good and the more we can make good news go viral, the more good news we’ll see here in the Mid-South and around our nation.
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