I’m Ann Wright … ex reporter … ex BBC producer … now one of the co-founders of Rough House Media.
Hope you’ve had a good day so far. Are you ready to hear about media skills?
May be that you’re wondering why you’re having a talk on this, as it’s not something you’ve ever really considered part of your job
You may work somewhere with a huge PR department which provides a steady stream of stories and coverage – all positive
How many people work somewhere like that?
How many people work somewhere that doesn’t get any coverage or recognition for the work that you do?
So what I’m going to do today is give just a bit of an insight into why media coverage is important, and what you can do to help it along
But first, let’s think about headlines.
At the moment, my company is a finalist in the West London Business Awards – so this is the headline I’d most like to see about it.
Just have a think – what headlines would you like to see about your work?
Get people to shout out
Then the worst headline?
You might be wondering what this has to do with you – why you need to bother about all this – what responsibility you have
Well, there are some major benefits to getting media coverage which can have a direct impact on you.
First - Funding and sponsorship – Imagine a very valuable artefact has just been discovered in a box in the attic of a manor house. It’s in a bad state and needs urgent conservation. But the work is delicate, time consuming and expensive. The manor house is open to the public, but struggling – it’s takings are down, the roof needs repairs and the last thing the owners can do is shell out to save something that isn’t going to make them any money. This is where publicity comes in. Who knows how many benefactors, enthusiasts, philanthropists are out there who would be delighted to fund the work, if they knew it existed
And –this is allied to public support – which is crucial if
Thirdly - professional recognition – this is human nature - who doesn’t want to be rewarded and recognised for the work they do
how will potential funders and sponsors know about the need for conservation project, if they don’t know about it.
How do you go about getting coverage?
First thing is to come up with some stories - when you’ve got that hidden masterpiece, when you’ve achieved something amazing, when you know that the piece you’re working on is xxxxx – let the world know about it.
But that first step is often the difficult part – We’re so caught up in the day to day minutiae of what we do, that we don’t recognise what might be interesting to the outside world
I have what I call the so what test – this is that if you told someone else about it ….
And there’s another filter for checking whether your story is one which might gain coverage – the Truth Test
Timely Relevant Unique Tension Human Interest
So now, I’d like you to have a bit of a brainstorm – and think about the type of stories that you – or your employer – might have that might be of interest to the outside world
Divide into pairs and spend five minutes discussing a story about the work you’re doing –
Then we talk about a couple – and work up a treatment for it
Once you’ve got your story, what do you do next?
You might think that the next step is easy – somehow let the media know about your story, by giving them a call, or sending out a press release, and phone will ring off the hook with inquiries from newspapers.
Not so easy, and actually getting the story and promoting it is towards the end of the process – you need to have laid the groundwork first. So let’s wind back and have a look at how newsrooms work
Lead times – who knows what these are? Stories assigned – who’s who – editor, news editor, reporter, producer, researcher, specialist correspondent – they will either seek out stories, or be given a story which is either in the diary (ie they know it’s coming up, like the Brexit debate, or something you’ve sent them that is an interesting event that’s you’re holding), or has come in via a press release, or someone has had a tip off. Daily meetings – understand the rhythm of a journalist’s day
Most important thing – to target the right media – journalists overwhelmed, no time, will ignore you if you send in rubbish stories
Target audiences – different stories for different papers – story of BOS and the story in the Sun Study the magazine/newspaper to see what types of thing they cover Create a media list – what is this? Make sure you have bios, good pictures, history of organisation, background notes
And for every story, you need to gather together some key elements – you need to know what the story is, it’s background, it’s protagonists, any human interest angle
Three years ago I worked on the coverage for Channel Four of the reburial of Richard III (& this is one of my favourite pics from the coverage). Now, granted he was a king – and a controversial one at that – so uncovering his bones was always going to get a lot of coverage – but the people promoting the story knew that they needed a whole range of angles to keep the media interest up.
So they had the whole narrative of the struggle to get the dig off the ground in the first place, how/where the bones were dug up – in a car park - they had traced his relatives to give a DNA sample to prove who he was – giving it some human interest, they had the drama of where he was going to be buried – Leicester or York or somewhere else, they had the scientific analysis of his bones – was he a hunchback, what did he eat, what did he drink (apparently a lot, though that was normal then when water was dirty), they had the celebrity angle – everyone from the Duke of Gloucester to Benedict Cumberbatch – apparently a distant relative - turned up at the burial.
And crucially they had the Channel Four cameras filming every step of the way.
Most of the projects you work on won’t have the option of a camera crew there filming every move. But nowadays very easy for you to film things yourself, and then when you come to promote your story, you’ve got footage available for online and broadcast coverage. And given that video is becoming increasingly important as a way to communicate and for publicity, and that budgets for newspapers, websites, TV companies are shrinking, if you can supply them with some footage, it means your story is much more likely to get coverage.
But video’s are expensive, yes?
And it’s difficult to make them look good, if you produce them yourself - yes?
Well, even when I left the BBC I’d have said yes to both those questions. I’d have recommended that you hire a professional video production company (like us). And in some circumstances I’d still say the same.
Technology has changed so much, and costs have come down so much, that it’s perfectly possible to create great videos on just your smart phone. Even Steven Soderberg’s latest movie Unsane has been filmed on smartphones.
Now being realistic, you don’t just need the tools to make the video, you also need the craftsmen, and undoubtedly Steven Soderberg is going to use camera operators at the top of their game.
But, there are some simple tricks which will really help improve the quality of your footage – and make it look more professional
Tell Elinor and Lizzie story
Here are some Dos:
Hold the phone landscape – that’s the way TV and movies are shot, the way you’ll see them on youtube and make it easier to film moving footage Let moving objects enter and leave frame – don’t follow the action as it makes it difficult to edit shots together Film action and sequences – the more action and moving footage you have of things happening the more interesting your film. Remember – c/up of the hands, c/up of the face, over the shoulder and wide – context shot Film at a level with your subjects – filming dogs Place interview subjects in context – don’t film someone embarking on a cycling challenge in their living room. Let people see the bike Remember interviewee positioning – depth of field, framing – face looking into frame, eyes a third of the way down, not tiny so people can see faces, no window frames out of head Use tripods and microphones – professional equipment can really make the difference. Have here a couple of mini tripods which will make sure your shots are steady, a microphone you can attach to your phone which will give professional sound – omnidirectional so you pick up what the interviewee is saying, rather than the air conditioning or the sound of the children playing in the next room. Plus an extension lead …. All these on Amazon, cost less than £100 and last for years.
Wobble. Hold your camera steady as any tiny movement is exaggerated when you are filming. Find techniques, such as resting your elbows on a steady surface, holding the phone with both hands. Ideally you should use a tripod. Move your camera, as it is incredibly difficult to do this smoothly. If you want to do moves, you must us a tripod which allows you to pan and tilt smoothly Follow the action–leave the camera in one position, as this will make it far easier for you to edit different shots Film against a window or bright light, as your subject will be “backlit” and overexposed, so they will be difficult to see. Film your subject from too far away. Staying physically closer to your subject ensures better picture quality, less digital noise and better focus. Film in a place with lots of background noise, particularly music. If that’s unavoidable, make sure you show the source of the noise, so it makes sense
Now it’s your turn to have a go at filming.
Whatever you film will need to be edited.
There are loads of different editing programmes out there, some very expensive, many aimed at professional editors, and some very complicated to use.
We recommend either using iMovie if you have a Mac which is free, or a programme called Filmora Wondershare, if you work on a PC. This isn’t free but it’s about £50 to buy the programme for life, and I think it’s worth the investment, I use it even though I have a Mac. It has loads of functions and bells and whistles, including lots of music, titles, credits, graphics which can really take your video to the next level.
Just going to show you a quick video … it’s not particularly sophisticated, just a few shots and a little title … it was filmed in October in Nantes, and stars my son …
The reason for showing you this is, that I’m not really an expert editor – I never did it professionally - but I take every opportunity I can to practise filming and editing, and editing this took me less than an hour.
It’s a simple series of shots, with a quick title at the top and some music, but hopefully shows a couple of the dos and don’ts I mentioned, it’s all filmed in landscape, I hold the camera still and the action moves through the shot
Editing does take practice, but you can pick up the basics really quickly. When we run our smart video courses, delegates spend half a day learning how to film and then the afternoon is spent editing, and everyone goes home with a video they’ve produced.
So, how would you apply these skills to your job.
Well, if you’ve got a major conservation project, consider filming it at the beginning, filming you or your colleagues in action, demonstrating what you are doing as the project progresses through the different stages, until the end. Then you’ll have a whole series of raw footage that can be edited together to showcase how the artefact has been preserved – the before and after and inbetween stages.
Once you’ve got
In conclusion – the skills you need to develop are to be able to know when you’ve got a good story on your hands
Know which paper or broadcaster might be interested in it
Work out how to tell it well – not too much jargon, including the elements of Truth test – Timely, Relevant, Unique, Tension, Human interest
And know what other elements will really bring it to life – pictures, video, interviews
Media skills for conservators - ICON
Ann Wright, Rough House Media
Rough House Media
o Funding & Sponsorship
o Public support
o Professional recognition
o Next job!
T – timely
R – relevant
U – unique
T – tension
H – human interest
1. How significant is your project or the artefact you’re
2. Does it have local, regional, cultural, religious or
3. Are you using new techniques?
4. Is there any human interest?
5. Is there some kind of time pressure or tension?
1. Make shots landscape
2. Let moving objects enter & leave frame
3. Film action & sequences
4. Film on the level of your subjects
5. Place interview subjects in context
6. Remember interviewee positioning
7. Use tripods and microphones
2. Move the camera
3. Follow the action
4. Film against a window or bright light
5. Zoom in
6. Film with too much background noise
1. Write in the first person
2. Send to one journalist at a time
3. 2-3 paragraphs max
4. Include a story summary, about you and
why idea is right for them
1. Compelling headline & intro
2. Answers questions: who, what, where, when + why
3. Key facts + proof
4. Around three paragraphs before quotes
5. Quotes from key players + customers
6. Appendix including contact details, boiler plate, interview +
7. Keywords + hyperlinks
o Two pages maximum
o A clear font with 1.5 line spacing
o Written in third person
o In grammatical & simple language
o Include release date/embargo
020 8332 6200
Publicity & Promotion
Rough House Media
1. Spotting a good story
2. Finding the right audience
3. Telling the story well
4. Adding value