Writing for Media, AERC Workshop, 2010


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This presentation was put together by CommsConsult for the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) biannual research workshop on Policy Engagement held in Mombasa, Kenya, November 2010.

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Writing for Media, AERC Workshop, 2010

  1. 1. Writing for and creating Media Researchers creating media
  2. 2. Exercise <ul><li>What are you doing now? </li></ul><ul><li>What else could you do to create your own media? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Researchers creating media <ul><li>Understand your audiences </li></ul><ul><li>Who are these different groups? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you do for them? </li></ul><ul><li>Policy makers directly </li></ul><ul><li>Activist networks in Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Networks of business, economic and financial journalists </li></ul>
  4. 4. Researchers creating media <ul><li>Not all media is mainstream </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace opportunities offered by ICTs, Blogging, social networking </li></ul><ul><li>Repackaging information in ways easy for media to use – fact sheets, background briefs, trends </li></ul><ul><li>Online newsletters targeted at activist networks and groups </li></ul><ul><li>Specialist newsletters and briefs e.g.. for parliamentarians </li></ul><ul><li>Supplements in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV </li></ul>
  5. 5. Op-Eds and Press Releases <ul><li>An Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) is essentially, an opinion piece that takes its name from its placement -- usually on the opposite side of an editorial. </li></ul><ul><li>Often written by an expert on an issue of interest to the newspaper’s audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Op-Eds sometimes offer an alternative view to an issue; or it could be intended to educate the public on a particular issue </li></ul><ul><li>Organisations can use Op-Eds for public relations purposes, to give prominence to key experts and issues they are working on. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Preparing an Op-Ed <ul><li>Do your research - Know your newspapers and their audiences -- it will help you decide on the angle to approach your opinion piece. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor what Op-Eds are published - If some authors are consistently published and get feedback from readers, find out what makes their work outstanding and interesting to the newspaper and its readers. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to the Op-Ed editor - Discuss the idea for your piece and find out the appropriate time to send your piece. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Writing an Op-Ed <ul><li>State the compelling argument of your piece right at the beginning , maintain it throughout and back it up with relevant facts and data. </li></ul><ul><li>It is useful to start by writing one sentence and then put facts and messages that you develop around it. </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear and concise . </li></ul><ul><li>1000 words or less or you risk losing the readers’ attention. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Demonstrate knowledge and passion about the issue you are writing about. </li></ul><ul><li>Send your Op-Ed to only one publication. Newspapers will not publish it if they know it has been sent to others. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-up with the editor the next day to make sure they have received it, whether they have any feedback for you and most importantly, if they are going to publish it. </li></ul>Writing an Op-Ed cont.
  9. 9. Writing a Press Release
  10. 10. The Technical Part <ul><li>Put ‘NEWS RELEASE’ or ‘PRESS RELEASE’ </li></ul><ul><li>If you do not wish the story to be published at once, or if you want the journalist to know that nobody else will publish it before they do, write ‘EMBARGO : Not for publication or broadcast before XX hours, XX date’ at the top of the page. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Content <ul><li>The content and structure of PRs has moved to follow story structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Begin with an attention grabbing headline -- but not too clever or mysterious eg. “No development without gender equality”. You can use a sub-heading to clarify </li></ul><ul><li>The first paragraph should be one or two sentences that sum up the main issues </li></ul><ul><li>The rest of the text should distil the subject matter into three or four main points, backed up with facts and figures. (Make sure you cover who, why, what, where and when.) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Content cont. <ul><li>Be clear about your issue and related issues </li></ul><ul><li>Well written, good grammar, spell check, correct facts, well structured. Media sometimes use PRs as news stories if well written. </li></ul><ul><li>Add a conclusion and the main policy implications for the way forward. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide quotes </li></ul>
  13. 13. Finish it <ul><li>Follow the main text with your contact details again (where you will definitely be contactable for at least the next two days, both in and out of office hours). </li></ul><ul><li>End with additional information for editors : the word count; a short description of your institution; relevant basic information and statistics; and your organisation’s website address. </li></ul>
  14. 14. What to do with it <ul><li>Send out PR . A few days in advance if for event </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-up but don’t be a nuisance </li></ul><ul><li>If for event, take copies and handout to media </li></ul><ul><li>Post on website </li></ul>
  15. 15. Adding value <ul><li>Make the Press Release timely e.g. by making a connection between your issue and what’s currently in the news. </li></ul><ul><li>Media is converged - offer pictures, voices to get more interest </li></ul><ul><li>Follow it up but don’t be too much of a nuisance </li></ul><ul><li>Offer a spokesperson who could speak on and around your research topic to the media – often at short notice. </li></ul>