Journalists are the key to having your story conveyed. To successfully work with the media, we need to understand that journalists live in an ever-changing world of deadlines and demands which can all alter in an instant. What was destined to lead the front page in the morning may have changed numerous times by noon as events occur and announcements are made.
Work with your journalists to help get your story out there
If a journalist is swamped and has a tight deadline, offer to draft the piece for them. But don’t expect it will automatically run exactly as you have written it. They will alter and edit items according to the style and tone of their publication and other restrictions including space.
Similarly, if you’re handy with a camera, by all means provide a photograph but ensure it’s attention grabbing, of high resolution and would pique audience interest.
The key is to assist but not demand.
Respond to phone calls and emails quickly.
Deadlines can arrive quickly and change swiftly in the media. The news moves fast and you need to too.
If you are calling a journalist, check if they are on deadline. If they are, offer to call back. And do call!
A quick rule of thumb is that daily newsrooms are best to contact in the morning, while weeklies and monthlies have more time in the days just after publication.
Treat every journalist with respect. They have a job to do, editors to report to and deadlines to meet.
Even though you have the most amazing idea for a story, it just may not work for their publication or the timing may just be wrong.
It might work later – it just doesn’t suit now.
Sometimes news happens
Be aware that the media’s schedule is determined by the “breaking” news of the day.
Do not be offended if an interview gets cancelled or rescheduled because a more urgent story arises.
Time is of the essence
If a journalist attends your event, be mindful of their time. It’s rare they have more than an hour to physically attend a location. To assist, you should have briefing notes about the event handy and your talent available for immediate interview.
In your media alert or invitation to the event, advise the journalist of the best time to arrive so they will have these at their disposal. They need to get in, get out and get that story filed with any accompanying imagery.
Don’t give up!