Tag Archives: media preparedness

Better Media Relations 101

We were recently asked by some students in a public relations course how to attract reporters’ attention and what social media practices prove most helpful with fostering good media contacts.

Our response was threefold. First, get to better understand the person behind the keyboard and up against the deadline. Second, like with any relationship you are trying to establish, good media relationships take time and are built on the trust garnered from honest and transparent exchanges. Third, there are a few practices that you should consider honing in a consistent and persistent manner – with no expectations of instant success.

On this last point, here are a few of those practices that will foster better media relations.

#1) Think of six basic questions that must be addressed before you begin writing your press release. If you can’t answer the questions, you don’t have a story. If you find that your answers are lacking, likely your story is not newsworthy.

  • What’s the story?
  • Why is it newsworthy?
  • Who cares?
  • Why am I (or my client) a resource?
  • What’s my specific, relevant expertise?
  • What other resources/assets can I offer a reporter?

#2) Consider these 4 ways to make your relations with media stronger.

  • Get to know your media better by researching reporters’ blogs, Twitter, online forums and other spaces where you might learn from their online conversations.
  • Cultivate a relationship by interacting with journalists/bloggers online. Read what they’re writing, start a conversation and share ideas with them.
  • Spot trends to create new story opportunities. Find relevant, current news items to develop new hooks for your potential story.
  • Participation in social media will ultimately lead to media coverage. If you’re blogging and tweeting about timely, relevant topics, this can help you generate additional media coverage.

#3) Consider these ways to attract media attention via Twitter (perhaps your best tool to get reporters’ attention during their working hours)

  • Follow those reporters who you wish to follow you.
  • Watch for tweets asking for help, especially on deadline.
  • Comment on a story a reporter wrote or aired, making sure you add the reporter’s Twitter name to the comment – and when possible, link to the story.
  • Retweet their tweets, especially when they link to their stories.
  • Offer to connect them with experts you think will genuinely help them on their beats.
  • Thank them for RT and Mentions and for covering an event they attended.
  • Look out for story ideas for them, not just big stories but follow-up pieces on stories they’ve already done.
  • Extend the relationship to other social networks if they’re more active elsewhere.


Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Media Preparedness (5) – Your By George Practice Drills

bgj_top020In our media preparedness sessions, we provide tips on how one can become more effective in dealing with the media. In coaching one-on-one, we will often provide exercises that will force a person to climb out of their comfort zone and think about how they look and sound.

By way of example, here are some tasks that will help improve the way you convey your ideas with media – also, in your workplace, at home, in the public… in fact, just about everywhere.

1) Look at yourself in every mirror you pass — are you smiling? If not, smile.

2) Tape record a conversation – make note of how you sound. What is your current pitch, intonation, inflection? Write down how you can enliven your conversation.

3) Practice voice improvement – your pronunciation, articulation, inflection – by reciting, on a daily basis, a piece of admired work – Mark Anthony’s eulogy of Caesar; Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech; or Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses.

4) Practice reading people’s non-verbal communications by turning volume down on television; observing people talking on public telephones; and/or people-watch in restaurants, street corners, and other public areas. List the non-verbal signs you make use of now, as well as the signs you have noted through observation that are effective.

Media Preparedness (4) – Insight into The #1 Rule

communication2In interviews, always remember The #1 Rule: “You are delivering a message, not answering questions.”


Messaging takes work. Practicing takes time.

  • Know what your messages are
  • Begin where you want
  • Consistently deliver messages
  • Assertively bring the message into the interview
  • Do not merely reply to questions; answer them, but move to your messages
  • Repeat, repeat, and repeat


What are messages?

  • Key points that need to be stressed in an interview
  • A point you want the audience to know and remember
  • Answer why the issue/program/policy is important
  • Answer what it will accomplish in ‘the real world’ – will it matter to your father or spouse??
  • (Consider whether it adds a new ‘angle’ to a current news story)


Deliver Messages in Quotes and Sound Bites

  • Most of the time your interview will be reduced to a five to ten second sound bite in a television or radio news item, or a one to three line quote in a newspaper or magazine.
  • Obviously you cannot force the reporter to quote you in a helpful way instead of a harmful way. All you can do is encourage the reporter to use a quote or sound bite that reinforces your message.
  • The key to getting your message across in the news item is to prepare a couple of irresistibly quotable quotes and be sure to get them across in the interview.
  • And, repeat, repeat and repeat.

Media Preparedness (3) – Rules to Remember

Remember The #1 Rule: You’re delivering a message, not answering questions.

Prepare for your media encounter, preparing your messages, the opening statement and your key points of argument. Think about the most effective way of relating your message. Finally, keep ‘The # 1 Rule’ top-o’-mind.


Anticipate. Listen. Then speak.

The most effective way of anticipating the eventual news story is to listen and observe when in an interview. Be an active listener. Watch, listen, then open your mouth.


Stay in control of the exchange.

Remember that the reporter is engaged in the interview with a personal set of biases. You should agree where the premise of the question is correct and do not hesitate to address any misconceptions. Keep your key message uppermost in your mind and, through engaging the reporter, bridge your statements to stay on-message.


Paint a picture, tell a tale and connect.

Communications should be a two-way experience. Engage the interviewer and the audience. You can effectively serve to make a point with recent happenings or your current surroundings, and everything from a timely quirk to an immediate observation. So, appreciate the moment of your interview and be engaging.


Give reporters what they want and they will produce what you want.

Reporters will respond to messaging that is relevant to the audience, is timely in its delivery, touches a nerve as a human interest story, has entertainment value, is factual and/or controversial. Their editors look for a story to display one or more of these elements.

Media Preparedness (2) – Preparing Yourself

work_5Before you speak to a news reporter, prepare yourself. Here’s a media encounter checklist.


1) Establish objectives of interview – both the media’s and your objectives
2) Collect relevant information
3) Prepare messages and themes for interview
4) Complete crib sheets for your reference
5) Develop opening statements
6) Think of examples, stories, an analogy
7) Practice quotes and sound bites
8) Review potential questions


Only after you have thought about what you should say, what you want to say – should you open your mouth to a reporter.


Media Preparedness (1) – Your Approach


Earlier this year, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS conducted a media preparedness session at which we answered some fundamental questions about working with media. In the following five posts we’ll provide a brief recap of some of the key ideas conveyed in our presentations. For example, here are three important questions a spokesperson must first answer to effectively deal with the media.


  • Look at every media encounter as an opportunity
  • Be pro-active in getting positive media attention
  • Be quick to respond when contacted – respecting media deadlines
  • Be honest and forthright – even when the news is negative
  • Be prepared


  • Facts and relevant information
  • Source and reference materials if possible
  • An interesting story (preferably with an angle)
  • Something ‘graphic’
  • Timely material for their deadlines
  • ‘A newsworthy story’


  • Relevance – Will the story have an impact on the daily lives of the people you are trying to reach?
  • Timeliness – Does the story deal with a major issue of the day or relate to a major holiday, event or person?
  • Human Interest – Does the story touch on an emotion or experience shared by most people?
  • Entertainment value – Is the story funny or does it stimulate curiousity, imagination or passion?
  • Controversy – The more outrageous or bitter the controversy, the more people want to see, hear and read about it.


(ed. – The following 5 posts on media preparedness were first published in By George Journal in Fall 2009.)


Dawn of a New Era of News Consumption?

The latest biennial survey on news consumption from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reveals signs of “a new phase, perhaps even a new era, in the acquisition and consumption of news.”

In its concluding commentary, the research institute observed:  

     In the last two years, people have begun to do more than replace old news platforms with new ones. Instead, the numbers suggest that people are beginning to exploit the capacity of the technology to interact with information differently.  This notion – that we are beginning to use the tools differently without necessarily abandoning the old ones – can be seen first in the amount of time people spend getting news. Compared with much of the past decade, people say they are spending more time each day acquiring or interacting with news….

     Why have we moved into this new phase — where people are not simply replacing old technologies with new but using new ones for different things or in different ways, augmenting their more traditional behavior?

     One explanation is that the content is changing. News producers are beginning to understand how they can deliver news in new ways to create new understanding, whether through the use of online graphics, customizing news to fit a consumer’s interest or location, or recognizing the public as a community that participates in the news rather than an audience that receives it. Another factor is improved connections and faster speeds that bring the technology’s potential to life. A third is that consumers themselves are changing, recognizing that each platform has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The strength of an aggregator or search engine, which allows someone to find answers to his or her own specific questions, is very different from the agenda-setting power of a newscast or a newspaper front page (even online), in which the news is ordered and presented for you. The power of a social networking site to tell you what people you know are thinking about or reading is different than the convenience of using a smartphone on the spur of the moment to check a fact or scan a headline….

SOURCE: http://people-press.org/2010/09/12/americans-spending-more-time-following-the-news/

Current Trends in Consuming On-line and Digital News

Here are some more notable findings from the Pew Research survey.* It is not surprising that the Internet is a regular source of news for a majority of Americans and that on-line news consumption is on the rise. But where and how do people search for their news interests? Here’s a glimpse of what is happening: 

  • 57% of Americans regularly get news from at least one internet or digital source. Nearly half (46%) of the public says they get news online three or more days a week, up from 29% in 2004 and 37% just two years ago. About a third (32%) gets news online every day, which is double the percentage that reported going online for news daily four years ago.
  • The use of search engines to find news has also increased substantially. A third (33%) of the public employs search engines, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, three or more days a week to search for news on a particular subject of interest.
  • The public turns to other online technologies for news far less often. About one-in-ten regularly get news or news headlines by email (12%), through a customizable webpage or RSS reader (10%), or read blogs about politics or current events (9%).
  • Of newer technologies, 8% regularly get news on their cell phone or smartphone, 7% regularly get news through social networking sites and 5% regularly watch or listen to news podcasts. Only 2% of the public regularly gets news through Twitter, and 1% uses their iPad or other tablet computer for news regularly.
  • Many familiar names dominate the list of websites people go to most often for news and information. More than a quarter (28%) mention Yahoo – the most frequently mentioned website – and another 15% cite Google and 14% name MSN as one of the websites they use most often. Fewer mention AOL (7%) and their internet service provider (4%) as their top online sources for news.
  • Cable television news organizations also are among the most common websites for news and information – 16% cite CNN, 8% mention FOX, and 7% name MSNBC among the websites they use most often. Far fewer cite BBC (2%), ABC (2%), NBC (2%), NPR (1%) and CBS (1%).
  • Online news consumers also turn to the websites of national newspapers; 6% name the New York Times website, but USA Today (2%), the Wall Street Journal (2%) and the Washington Post (1%) are mentioned less often.
  • Only 2% cite the Drudge Report and 1% volunteer the Huffington Post as one of the websites they go to most often for news and information. And 1% mention Facebook as one of their top sources for news.

* SOURCE:  This information is from the biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 8-28 on cell phones and landlines among 3,006 adults. To see the full survey results go to: http://people-press.org/2010/09/12/americans-spending-more-time-following-the-news/

Our News Habits

Last week the Pew Research Centre in the U.S. released current statistics on Americans’ news habits. The findings are extremely interesting for all those in media relations.

The trends tell us that more and more people are receiving their daily news in mulitple ways – both from traditional and on-line sources. People spend more time viewing news. Yet, very few get their news from Internet sources only.  

Here is what the statistics reveal:

  • Americans are spending more time with the news than over much of the past decade because there are many more ways for people to receive the news.
  • Digital platforms are playing a larger role in news consumption, and they seem to be more than making up for modest declines in the audience for traditional platforms. The average time Americans spend with the news on a given day is as high as it was in the mid-1990s, when audiences for traditional news sources were much larger.
  • Roughly a third (34%) of the public say they went online for news yesterday – on par with radio, and slightly higher than daily newspapers.
  • With cell phones, email, social networks and podcasts factored in, 44% of Americans say they got news through one or more internet or mobile digital source yesterday.
  • Americans who get news from traditional media platforms – television, radio and print – has been stable or edging downward in the last few years.  There has been no overall decline in the percentage saying they watched news on television.  Even with the continued erosion of print newspaper and radio audiences, three-quarters of Americans got news yesterday from one or more of these three traditional platforms.
  • More than a third (36%) of Americans say they got news from both digital and traditional sources yesterday, just shy of the number who relied solely on traditional sources (39%).
  • People say they spend 57 minutes on average getting the news from TV, radio or newspapers on a given day. But today, they also spend an additional 13 minutes getting news online, increasing the total time spent with the news to 70 minutes.  (This is one of the highest totals on this measure since the mid-1990s and it does not take into account time spent getting news on cell phones or other digital devices .)
  • Only 9% of Americans got news through the internet and mobile technology without also using traditional sources.

SOURCE:  This news consumption survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, on June 8-28, 2011. News links and the full survey can be found here:


A Summary on “The Future of News”

This week, By George Journal posted the insight of many of our leading news personalities as they considered, “What will be the future of news?”

Prompted by an excellent series of articles in the Business Insider, we explored the possibilities of what our new digital realities will mean for the news industry, reporting, and the delivery of information.

Our By George Journal commentary: The Future of News

The Business Insider’s special report on the future of news:  The Future of News is Going to be Awesome

News personalities’ opinions from the pages of The Business Insider:

Insights into the Future of News

Insights into the Future of News (2)

Insights into the Future of News (3)

Insights into the Future of News (4)

Also, two weeks ago, Canadians also witnessed the passing of a torch on the country’s most-watched nightly newscast. By George Journal paid tribute to this event – saying goodbye to Lloyd Robertson:

Having to say “Goodbye” to our trusted Lloyd Robertson

…and hello to Lisa LaFlamme:

Lisa LaFlamme – beginning the new era of CTV News 

In closing this review of the future of news, we quote Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-In-Chief of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, who says, “The future of news is about connection and engagement…” Today, there is growing involvement of the public in the development of news stories. According to the many newsmen who shared their insight, we can expect this involvement to increase in the years to come. The Internet is the “game-changer.” It has allowed news to become a participatory sport – that will come with new playbooks and responsibilities – and, undoubtedly, with growing pains. By George Journal will continue to explore and report on this fascinating transformation of “news.”