We're Not Victims, We're Survivors: Engaging the Media on Sensitive Topics


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Nonprofits and the causes they champion need media attention to raise awareness, fight for reform, and bring in needed financial support. But when they work on sensitive topics like suicide, bereavement, community crisis, natural disaster, or child exploitation, the typical guidance for media engagement falls short and media stereotypes of what trauma “victims” should look like can overwhelm the story line that public relations professionals are trying to share. Public relations professionals working in these areas need to know the important groundwork to cover before engaging the media on a sensitive topic, how to prepare organizations and survivors to speak from a place of empowerment, apply storytelling to their organization’s communications efforts to under gird and support media engagement, and the three principles needed to structure media relations around a sensitive topic. Attendees will walk away with helpful tips and information. They will understand the important groundwork that must take place in advance of media engagement, will know the three principles for structuring media engagement around a sensitive topic, will understand four key tenets involved in preparing survivors to share with the media, and know how to apply storytelling principles to their organizations more broadly so they are seen as a viable resource on a key issue.

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We're Not Victims, We're Survivors: Engaging the Media on Sensitive Topics

  1. 1. We’re Not Victims: We’re SurvivorsEngaging the Media on Sensitive TopicsAmi Neiberger-MillerSteppingstone LLC@AmazingPRMaven
  2. 2. What are sensitive topics?
  3. 3. What are we learning today Groundwork you have to do before the story. 3 Principles to structure media engagementaround a sensitive topic. 4 Key tenets that must be in place to support atrauma survivor sharing with the media. How to apply storytelling to your organization orcompany to better share your stories that touchthe heart.
  4. 4. GroundworkThe Organization – Why do media? What arethe goals? Motivations? Are you pro-active orreactionary with media?What issues,research, policiesmatter to yourorganization? Whatdo you want to seeresult?
  5. 5. Groundwork – how are you telling the story?Examine your website. Do you see stories?How is your organization telling the story of theissue? Cause?How are you telling the story of yourorganization?How are you telling the story of the people youhave helped or are actively helping?
  6. 6. Groundwork The Survivor – what is the story? Why does sheor he want to share something that may bedifficult or painful?
  7. 7. GroundworkThe Deployment - Where will the story be themost effective? What forums will placement helpbuild momentum toward a goal?
  8. 8. 3 Principles for Media EngagementPR professionals working in this area must have:Passionate AuthenticityBackground KnowledgeCreativity/Offer-able Solutions
  9. 9. The PitchStart with the issue – link to a breaking newsstory or current news if possible. Do your statsvery briefly.If the reporter cares about the issue, he or shewill say he or she wants a survivor to talk to.If it’s an e-pitch – state that you may have asurvivor available to talk.
  10. 10. 4 Key Supports for SurvivorsEmotional and physical safety.Believe that sharing can make a difference, leadto a greater good.Trust with the reporter, media outlet, PR pro andother staff with the organization.Honesty and self-awareness about where theirown boundaries need to be in an interview.
  11. 11. Some carry strength
  12. 12. Some carry strength
  13. 13. Do one big story
  14. 14. Do stories that show people, not just issues
  15. 15. Apply StorytellingWe are allthe medianow
  16. 16. Apply StorytellingUse data
  17. 17. Apply StorytellingUse your blog
  18. 18. Applying storytelling
  19. 19. Stay in touch!Ami Neiberger-Miller, Steppingstone LLC@AmazingPRMavenami@steppingstoneLLC.comwww.SteppingstoneLLC.com