Working with the News Media


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  • Packaging stories for the media and tips on working with journalists Crisis Management RI Resources – How we can help Be sure to write down your questions and thoughts during the presentation to bring up during the discussion portion at the end.
  • We know that clubs that are telling the Rotary story and doing it well – grow. Membership and Public Relations have a direct correlation to one another. Enhancing Rotary’s public image by increasing awareness of its humanitarian work will lead to increase donations to the Foundation and to the End Polio Now campaign - As part of the Future Vision plan, an enhanced public image for Rotary will help us to be recognized as a premier partner in the philanthropic world - The Gates Foundation Challenge grant as an example.
  • Profiles of outstanding volunteers Local Rotary service projects such as Youth Exchange, Ambassadorial Scholars, or GSE participants, Polio eradication activities, such as NID group trips and End Polio Now fundraisers. Human interest stories of people benefiting from Rotary service
  • Dealing with the media presents unique challenges in that the news cannot be controlled. News outlets have ultimate control over whether stories pitched to them are of interest to them or their audiences. Because of this, cultivating and maintaining solid relationships with your local media is vital.
  • News Peg : Keep up with current events and what’s in the news – and connect the dots with news relating to your activities. Personal Story : The media is interested in personal stories – people who take extraordinary efforts to help others and stories of people overcoming odds - e.g.: Exemplary Rotarian helping people in need, 2) Someone who has benefited from Rotary program or effort of a Rotarian Timeliness : Story is about to occur, ongoing, or near completion and can be linked to current events. Impact of story : Is the impact of the project significant? Is it unique and innovative?
  • Learn who covers the health beat, or education beat – whoever is most appropriate for your story and then learn how best to connect with them – everyone is different. Approach them with the intention of helping – perhaps recommend a follow up story to something they’ve already covered, or a particular section your story would be most appropriate for.
  • Print: News Releases, Op-Eds, Letters to Editor Television: Public Access, Cable, Network Radio Outdoor: Billboards, Transit
  • We can help brainstorm on ideas of how to interest national/international media. There are also sample media tools that we just discussed available on
  • In the unlikely event… We need to be prepared As many of you know, we’re vulnerable – like every organization – to media crisis. The key to successfully conveying the facts and Rotary position is preparation.
  • In most crisis management scenarios, the outcome depends heavily on what you do and say in the first few hours. What the news media report in their first stories — and how they view your coping skills — will often set the tone for the entire crisis. So it’s crucial to know what to do the moment a crisis develops. Prepare/Plan : Convene the crisis management team (YEO, DG, Attorney, Media Professional, Committee Chair) Gather all the facts. Offer timely briefings to team members. Designate a Rotary spokesperson.
  • Develop Key Messages to Convey Rotary’s position: We care about every student (Youth protection is Rotary’s priority) We are shocked/concerned/saddened by this information/allegation/event We take every allegation very seriously We will review our policies and guidelines We are cooperating fully with authorities Message consistency is key Tell clubs/Rotarians to refer all media inquiries to the designated spokesperson. Statement The statement should express Rotary’s position. Give the facts of the situation (attribute to authorities) Be open and sincere Offer sympathy and concern Outline action and follow-up. RI Support Contact RI immediately if there is a potential for national/international media interest.
  • Maintain a positive attitude toward reporters A media interview is an opportunity to convey the facts and Rotary’s position to the public. Respond to media calls promptly Try to accommodate their deadlines. If you need time – tell the reporter you will call back – and then call back promptly But don’t rush to an interview. Confirm your facts, making sure they are up-to-date, organize your thoughts and review Rotary message and position.
  • Key Points to remember: - Stick to the facts. Avoid sharing with reporters rumors, personal observation or speculation - As a spokesperson, you are representing Rotary. When you speak, you ARE Rotary. - There is no such a thing as “Off the Record.” If you don’t want the reporter to publish it, don’t say it. - Avoid repeating the negative term used by reporters. e.g. Question: Isn’t that true that Rotary is an old white men’s club… Answer : Do not repeat question. “No, Rotary is a humanitarian service organization, with 1.2 million professional and business men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.” - Always remember that when you’re talking to a journalist, you’re talking to the general public. Define a Rotary term (e.g., District governor, The International Assembly or Institute, YEO, RYLA, Rotaractor, District 6500 etc.) or replace it with phrases that general public understands.
  • The Guide to Effective Public Relations for clubs and districts is an excellent resource for approaching the news media. It contains great tips on events, writing press releases, pitch letters, and more. The Media Crisis Handbook is also great for providing information on managing a media crisis.
  • Working with the News Media

    1. 1. Working with News Media
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Telling the Rotary story </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis Management </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive Discussion </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why tell the Rotary story?
    4. 4. Highlight Outstanding Volunteers
    5. 6. Elements of a news story <ul><li>News peg </li></ul><ul><li>Personal story </li></ul><ul><li>Timeliness </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of story </li></ul>
    6. 7. Before you act, remember to… <ul><li>Understand each media outlet </li></ul><ul><li>Research whom to approach and how </li></ul><ul><li>Become familiar with their work </li></ul><ul><li>Assess whether your story is right for them </li></ul>
    7. 8. Ways to tell our story <ul><li>New Media </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Images: Flickr </li></ul><ul><li>Video: YouTube, Vimeo </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional </li></ul><ul><li>Print: New Releases, Op-Eds </li></ul><ul><li>Television: Public Access, Cable, Network </li></ul><ul><li>Radio </li></ul><ul><li>Outdoor: Billboard </li></ul>
    8. 9. Support from RI Media Relations <ul><li>Help elevate your story to larger media market </li></ul><ul><li>Help with last minute media training </li></ul><ul><li>Provide international spokesperson </li></ul><ul><li>Help coordinate national/international media interviews/media contacts </li></ul>Support from RI
    9. 11. What to do… <ul><li>Convene the crisis management team </li></ul><ul><li>Gather all the facts </li></ul><ul><li>Offer timely briefings to team members </li></ul><ul><li>Designate a Rotary spokesperson </li></ul>
    10. 12. Prepare and Plan
    11. 13. When the media contacts you
    12. 14. Key Points <ul><li>Stick to the facts </li></ul><ul><li>You ARE Rotary </li></ul><ul><li>There is no such a thing as “Off the Record” </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid repeating the negative term used by reporters </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid using Rotary jargon </li></ul>
    13. 15. RI Crisis Support <ul><li>Assist drafting position statement </li></ul><ul><li>Help with last minute media training </li></ul><ul><li>Provide international spokesperson </li></ul><ul><li>Help coordinate national/international media interviews/media contacts </li></ul>
    14. 16. RI Resources Training Manual Crisis Handbook
    15. 17. Interactive Discussion