Promoting Your Agency’S Work Through Media Relations


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  • I just taught first class in health reporting at UT journalism schoolHealth journalists need a lot of help from health professionals; hope we can all work together better for the benefit of the publicMy studies on AIDS from BRBefore that, newspaper journalist for 15 years
  • Here to talk about news releases – most obvious way to promote your agency’s work through the mediaBut there are also other things I want to encourage you to do that will achieve the same goalOffer yourself and others as ‘expert’ sources – studies show readers find most credible health professionals, researchers, scientists, professors, and most health news stories contain these types of sourcesOffer to translate medical jargon or research studies into plain language, interpret numbersDiscussion on AHCJ listserv on how to interpret odds ratios
  • Seattle - The press release wasconsidered to be a prevention intervention for MSM, focusing on raising awareness about HIV generally and spedfically as well aspromoting the adoption of protective behaviors.Some have shown media campaigns to be fairly effective at influencing health-related knowledge and behavior,whereas other studies have indicated that media campaigns alone are not effective tools for health interventions or fail to provide any long-termbehavior changein one study of AIDS/HIV press releases, gay men who saw stories from them in mainstream newspapers remembered far more information than those who got the info from flyers, on radio, or from friendsPublicity generated by press releases is free, and often the coverage is far more extensive than anything you could have hoped to say in an ad.
  • Studies show, Press releases and press conferences are one of the main ways that journalists get ideas for health stories – along with scientific journals and wire service reportingAnother study shows that 40-50% of health news stories are generated from press releasesIf you see a medical study reported, it came from a press release 84% of the time80% of health press releases are run word for wordSo, it’s important that you write press releases that are accurate, clear
  • WHEN I WAS AN EDITOR, I GOT A STACK OF MAIL THIS HIGH EVERY DAY.I GOT TO WHERE I COULD TELL WHETHER TO OPEN IT OR NOT JUST BY THE ENVELOPE, RETURN ADDRESSMOST WENT IN THE TRASH UNOPENEDTHEN I WENT INTO PR AND NEVER WROTE A PRESS RELEASE THAT DIDN’T GET USEDBetter understanding of what journalists want, how they think, you can do that tooStudies show media exaggerate the importance of findingsAnd minimize the limitations of the study or conflicts of interestClearly distinguish between causation and correlation or associationPut findings into contextFail to explain costsYou are important in getting accurate and complete info out to the public
  • LIST YOUR TARGET MEDIAWrite a list of media organizations you want your stuff to appear in and whyDon’t forget small media, weeklies, shopper, specialty media, ethnic media – hiv black pressBuying an ad doesn’t get you a storyEvery news organization does things differently. They have different audiences, and so they tailor their messages to their audience. you should too. read or watch closely the media you are going to try to get information in. notice what they seem to run and what they don’t. Find ‘departments’ that you can target. Example, a business section will run notices of promotions, new hires, etc. The features section may do a profile on somebody Health section reporters are dying for ideas and sources. Don’t forget guest columns on the op-ed page. Find out if you have to submit an idea first.Know which reporters cover what and send it to them, personally rather than a top editor, or just the dept.Mass mailed press releases aren’t targeted. They are trashed.Write your press release as close to their ‘style’ as you can
  • NEWS VALUES – conflict, controversy, prominence, proximity, timeliness, human interestSomething that is NEW – product, service, way to do something better, findings from a study etcSomething that is happening – an event, a freebieInteresting peopleNews you can use – tips for . . . Service or refrigerator news. . . how will it help people live longer, better, save money?Apply research findings to peopple’s everyday livesWhat does this mean to me? How much does it cost? How many does it affect? Where can I go to get …?JOURNALISTS WANT INFORMATION THAT THEIR AUDIENCES CAN USE, NOT SELF-SERVING INFO
  • LOCALIZEINVERTED PYRAMIDMost important stuff first, go down in order of importance. General stuff first, details later. Not chronological. Not even everything about one topic in one spot.Third person, past tenseSAIDObjectiveWho, what, when, where, why and how
  • Lede – hook the reader; give accurate (not misleading) info about what is to come, in a way that grabs your attention without misleadingNut graf – after the lede, tell what the rest of the press release is going to be about in a nutshellACCURACYBe sure what you say is right. And in context. Give both sides of the story, not just what is favorable to you and you will build your credibility as an accurate source.
  • Call back IMMEDIATELYThey will just call someone else and won’t need youFor TV, be ready to drop what you are doing and meet them for a standup. Make it easy for them, go out of YOUR way.Include as much contact information as you can – email, home phone, cell phones. Journalists work later hours than many offices are open.
  • LEARN TO TALK IN SOUNDBITES AND GIVE GOOD QUOTESsay things so that non-experts or people not in your field can understand. Don’t use jargon. Even everyday terms to you mean something else to them. “Emergent” for emergency. “Significant” for statistical. Give pithy answersSay things that are interesting. Tell stories about people or give examples of what you mean. Be colorful. Paint word pictures – a stent works like a Chinese finger puzzle, pushing against artery walls like it grabs your fingers when you pullThe astrophysicist who gave an interview and all that ended up on the news was his hips wobbling like the star he was describing.I wrote “Bosses shouldn’t lie because they are role models for their employees. They shouldn’t lie if for no other reason than they don’t want people taking home the company’s pencils.”Keep it short.
  • EVERYTHING IS ‘ON THE RECORD’Don’t ask to go ‘off the record’ or to be anonymous. Don’t ask afterward to not use something.If you don’t know, say that. offer another source. LESS IMPORTANT – get to know the journalists on your beat. Mostly, they appreciate it when you give them good reliable information fast. Not taking them out to lunch. cAn’t take freebies. THINK VISUAL – all media is more visual now. Provide pictures or video (but not a VNR). Have art in mind you can suggest. Especially for TV. Can you get a patient to be photographed?Not clichéd – firing squad, ground breakings, check passings, grip ‘n grinsOnly small-town, weekly type media will use these
  • AFTER IT’S OVERBe available for followup questions. Set aside some time after you’ve sent out a release for calls from reporters. You’ll hurt yourself on this and in the future if you’re not availableDON’T CALL TO ASK ‘DID YOU GET MY PRESS RELEASE’Watch and see if they use it. Hire a service to send you clips if they use it. If you do call to see if they need anything else, don’t call on Fridays, or late in the day, just before the newscast.Don’t ask to read the story or approve things in advance.Journalists are bound to get things wrong. Ask for corrections that are meaningful. It’s aggravating to be asked for corrections to things like “My middle initial is A not B; could you please run a correction?” When all else fails - advertorial
  • Promoting Your Agency’S Work Through Media Relations

    1. 1. Promoting your agency’s work through media relations <br />Renita Coleman<br />University of Texas<br />School of Journalism<br />
    2. 2. News Releases<br />Expert source<br />Translator<br />Interpret numbers<br />Association of Health Care Journalists<br />
    3. 3. Seattle Campaign<br />Effective prevention intervention<br />Remembered more from newspaper than flyers, radio, friends<br />Increase knowledge<br />Influence health behaviors<br />Free<br />More credible, attention than an ad<br />Value of the News Release<br />
    4. 4. News releases/conferences are main ways that journalists get ideas<br />Scientific journals<br />Wire services<br />40% - 80% of health stories from releases<br />80% word for word<br />
    5. 5. Trash can decoration<br />Lack of control<br />Exaggerate importance of findings<br />Minimize limitations of the study<br />Don’t report conflicts of interest<br />Causation vs. correlation, association<br />Fail to explain costs<br />Disadvantages<br />
    6. 6. Targeted list<br />Tailor the message<br />Small things add up<br />Business<br />Op-Ed<br />Aim low – reporters rather than top editors<br />Write in their style<br />Know Your Media<br />
    7. 7. News Values<br />Conflict, controversy, prominence, proximity, timeliness, human interest<br />Way to do it better, how it will help people live longer, better, save money<br />Apply to everyday life<br />Tips, news you can use, refrigerator journalism<br />Interesting people<br />Audience serving, not self serving<br />What is ‘News’?<br />
    8. 8. Writing the Release<br />Localize<br />1-2 pages<br />Inverted pyramid<br />Third person, past tense<br />SAID<br />Objective<br />5 W’s and H<br />
    9. 9. Lede<br />Nut graf<br />Active voice<br />Newsy headlines <br />Numbers<br />Real people (patients)<br />Accurate<br />All sides<br />
    10. 10. Get back to reporters yesterday!<br />As much contact information as possible<br />
    11. 11. Give good quotes and soundbites<br />Short<br />Interesting<br />Paint word pictures<br />Laymen’s terms<br />Talk the Talk<br />
    12. 12. It’s all ‘on the record’<br />Getting to know you<br />No freebies<br />Think visual<br />Patients and real people, action<br />Not grip ‘n grins, check passings, firing squad, ground breakings<br />
    13. 13. Be AVAILABLE!<br />“Did you get my press release?”<br />Don’t ask to read the story in advance<br />Ask for meaningful corrections<br />When all else fails:<br />Advertorial<br />After It’s Over<br />