Four Tips For Building Relationships With the Media

Four Tips For Building Relationships With the Media

Even though some may frown upon this statement, it’s true when it comes to media relations; it’s a two-way street out there.  There are times they need something, and there are times you need something from them as well. Here’s how to cultivate a good relationship with your local media.

Having a tight relationship with the media is critical in growing your organization, building authenticity, and gaining credibility.

But, many agencies and organizations struggle to set their footing in the media landscape, failing to forge relationships, often due to lack of time, skepticism, and mistrust.

It’s imperative to understand that the media plays a vital role in communicating your news to the public, whether you want it communicated or not. So why not take control of your narrative by building a relationship with the media?

Building these relationships is not as daunting as you may think. Sure it’ll take time, but it’ll be worth it when you begin to gain the benefits of controlling the narrative during a crisis, strengthening credibility, gaining third-party support, and bringing awareness to your agency’s professionalism.

Here are four simple ways your agency can build a positive relationship with the media.

Tip #1 – Identify News Outlets

Before you begin to build relationships with the media, identify news outlets that target your agency’s key audience.

For example, if you’re a law enforcement agency, you would want to target hard-news media organizations, community newsgroups, and law enforcement trade magazines, opposed to entertainment news outlets and lifestyle magazines. Why? Because that would be a waste of time as those news organizations don’t normally or frequently publish law enforcement, public safety, or crime-related news content.

Be intentional with the news organizations, journalists, and reporters that you connect with. If you’ve worked in your community for any amount of time, you’ll know who the outlets and journalists are that usually cover the news in your area.

Tip #2 – Introduce Yourself

When a person can put a name to a face, it enhances the human connection. This is why it’s essential to introduce yourself to news directors, editors, reporters, and journalists – because the more they know you, the more likely they will begin to pick up on your press releases and news tips.

Nowadays, you don’t even have to introduce yourself physically; you can start by reaching out and engaging with them via social media.

But, if you have an opportunity to introduce yourself in person, say you’re both at an event or whatnot, take the time to go up to them and introduce yourself in person; it’ll pay off in media coverage.

STAY GUARDED

It’s sad we have to say this but stay guarded when forming relationships with people who report the news. Anyone today can start a Facebook group and call it a news outlet, and claim themself as a member of the media. They may not have any formal training or education and will push the boundaries of professionalism and courtesy. We’ve had personal experience with these types of people who will try to “buddy” up to you, only to try to write a “gotcha” post.

Tip #3 – Respect Their Deadlines and Keep Your Word

Always ask about the news organization’s daily, weekly or monthly deadline to respectfully remain aware of their time and ensure that you have all materials for them (photos, videos, statements, etc.) well before that date and time.

Continuously turning items in late, rescheduling interviews, and not responding promptly will undoubtedly frustrate the reporter or journalist and make them steer clear of you in terms of giving you an opportunity to tell your agency’s side of the story.

So be sure to identify their deadlines early on and create an excellent first, second and infinite impression to keep the relationship strong.

The last part of this tip is a reminder to always keep your word. If you tell a journalist you’ll call them back in 20 minutes, then call them back. Over time, they’ll know that you mean what you say, which will give you some working time to put something together for them if you’re dealing with a critical or evolving situation.

Tip #4 – Give Them A News Package

You will become a news organization’s best friend if you start giving them entire news packages. However, this can be somewhat a challenge if you are a “one-person operation,” or involved in an evolving situation or incident. However, for those times where you have some time, consider putting together a package of information for the media.

TIME SAVER TIP:

Upload your news release, photos, videos, and sound bites to a Dropbox folder, and share the link with the media. You can even post it in a blog post on your website or push it out on social media to make it easy for the media to get.

With newsrooms being so bare-bones these days, journalists and reporters are genuinely appreciative when you provide them with as much information as possible. Trust us; it’ll set you apart from the other hundred news releases they receive each week.

Giving them a news release, along with appropriate contacts, photos, a video, sound bites, graphics, and links, will be helpful to them as you give them a complete visual story so that they don’t need to start from ground zero.

Building relationships with the media will take time, just like any relationship. Still, when you begin to have the opportunity to get ahead of false narratives that are often spread across social media, critical incidents, and bad press, it’ll be worth it.

Public speaking tips to effectively convey a message to the media and public

Public speaking is a critical part of both public relations and public affairs. Being confident, understanding your audience, organization, and conveying communicative messages in a succinct manner all play an important role in public speaking. 

Here’s a fun fact, did you know most people would rather die than having to speak in public?

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Jerry Seinfeld

Now, it’s likely that your position within public speaking is not that dramatic, and you only need a few pointers on how to strengthen your delivery and presentation to benefit your agency, organization or business. 

Take note that public speaking has the power to help us influence decisions, formulate connections and generate change, but there are many mistakes we see in this space that we want you to be aware of and avoid. 

Not tailoring your message to its intended audience is a mistake we see far too often; while on the technical side of things…dumping too much data at once and rushing through the content are other public speaking tendencies that should be eliminated ASAP. 

Now, here are some tips, tactics, and tricks to assist you in efficiently delivering a public message, now and in the future!

Build your confidence

Public speaking can be terrifying, we understand. But know that the more you do it, the easier it will become. 

It’s important to understand that if you want to come off as confident when delivering your message, be sure to truly understand the material at hand. Sometimes our nervousness comes from the fear of the unknown, and questions in our head arise that suggest that we may be asked something we do not have the answer to; the more you practice, research, and learn about the topic, the easier it will be to deliver the message, confidently. Writing down the talking points and reading them out loud is a great way to build comfortability when public speaking. 

Also, when delivering your message, remember, your audience does not know what you’re going to say. So if you miss or skip a point, don’t worry, keep going and come back to it as soon as you wrap up your current point. 

Try not to read from a script, unless you have to. There is no one better to share this communication than yourself. Remember that. 

Be sure to make eye contact with your audience and refrain from holding a piece of paper, because if you are indeed nervous, your paper will start to flutter from your shaking; it becomes more evident when an object is in your hand. 

Who is your audience?

Defining your audience is a key component when speaking in public. Have you ever attended a speaking engagement or press conference and did not understand a single word that was shared? Yes…we’ve been there too. Avoid all jargon. 

When delivering a public speech, before even drafting your talking point, ask yourself, “Who is my audience?” Is your audience the general public, law enforcement agency professionals, entrepreneurs, fire captains, college students, or members of a legal association? Always be sure to write your talking points according to your audience. Put yourself in their shoes, if you had their background, would you understand the material? 

“Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.”

Harvard Division of Continuing Education

Organize talking points

Always remember to organize your talking points. Could you imagine if a public figure or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company stood up in front of an audience and just started talking, jumping from the middle, back to the beginning, before landing at the end? It would sound like a mess. 

Be sure to place the most important talking points at the beginning of your speech. A majority of the attention placed on your message will be at the beginning, before people’s attention span wears out. 

“Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.”

Harvard Division of Continuing Education

A startling piece of data or findings have the power to generate an attention grabbing introduction and will set you up for a dynamic ending. 

Keep it concise 

Anytime you speak publicly, we cannot stress the need to keep your message succinct. Eliminating any filler words or information that is not directly related to the topic, get rid of it…if a member of the media or public is interested in additional information, have them contact you via phone to learn more. 

Staying on topic and reinforcing the focal point when delivering a public speech will ensure that your audience is following along, listening, and understanding all the way through. Of course, when public speaking the context should be as long as it needs to be so you can get all your points across, share data, examples, and visuals, but no longer than that. 

Remember, sometimes visuals implemented into your public speaking engagement can be distracting to your audience, so be strategic with graphics and images and use them only when discussing that specific topic or point, then get rid of them, as people may be distracted with visuals, which will take away from the message. 

Be concise all the way through, from beginning to end with all talking points, visuals, and nonverbal communication. 

Preparing for a Press Conference? Here Are Five Tips to Ensure a Successful Rollout.

Giving your first press conference or sometimes even giving your 20th press conference can be a daunting experience. Maybe your agency is providing you with a week to plan or maybe you have less than a day before the conference, either way, we have your back.

Staying on track and planning from start to finish is key to ensure you have total control of your conference and the messaging that will be disseminated to the press at the event.

To assist you now and in the future, Law Enforcement Social has compiled six major tips to elevate your coordination of the event, to deliver a compelling message that will generate news coverage from the press and maximize coverage for your agency.

Create a press conference management guide
While creating a press conference management guide is not mandatory in ensuring a successful event, putting one together will assist in making certain you are hitting all of your points and not forgetting any of the many moving parts. This management guide does not even have to be complex, even a simple checklist could work.

Here are some items you may want to include in your press conference management guide:

  • Define the message
  • Schedule date and time
  • Pick the location
  • Train participants
  • Contact media
  • Practice speech, practice Q&A
  • Write messaging down
  • Prepare conference space
  • Generate a press kit
  • Follow up with media

Craft your message
The pivotal part of the entire press conference is its messaging. Generating compelling and succinct talking points is key in making sure the press retells your agency’s story with its original intent.
Write three to five key talking points, no more, no less. By not providing more than five key talking points this will assist you and your agency in staying on track, maintaining your audience’s attention, and ensuring what you are saying is easily understood.

Having too long of messaging at a press conference increases the probability of the message getting lost or misconstrued. Finally, make sure the talking points coming out of your mouth and the talking points in the press kit or other items are consistent with the agency’s messaging, this will ensure credibility.

Pick a site
Picking a site for your press conference is almost as important as generating the message. It’s important to choose a location that is in close proximity to reporters and news publications that you invite, because what good is hosting a press conference without press?

It’s also important to pick a space that does not have many distractions, such as background noise or a highly populated location. Sometimes in our field it’s difficult to be visually appealing, but try your hardest to choose a place that is as visually appealing as possible; this will ensure reporters garner great photos and b-roll to help tell the story.

Another note to remember is that the best days of the week to host press conferences are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, between the hours of 10 AM to 11 AM, as they’re deemed slow news days for the press.

Practice talking points, practice Q&A
Ahead of the press conference it’s important to go over your talking points and make any revisions if needed. It’s best practice to go over your talking points, no need to memorize, but make yourself comfortable with the messaging. Read your talking points out loud, practice your tone and diction; it’ll increase your level of confidence at the conference.

For this next part, enlist a co-worker to assist you in briefly going over a Q&A. Put yourself in the place of the press, and think to yourself, if you were them, what would they be asking? Write those questions down and formulate responses to those potential questions. You can also use these questions and answers for your press kit following the conference.

Follow up after press conference
Following the press conference, always follow up with the press who were in attendance. Send them an email later that afternoon or evening and thank them for attending the event. In this email you can attach a press kit or a press release that they can refer to when writing their article or editing their news segment.

Making yourself available to the press and providing additional information to them will strengthen your relationship with them. When you strengthen a relationship with the press, this increases the chances they will attend future press conferences and convey your messaging in the truest form.