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….


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:

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.”