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Most journalists define news as containing at least some of the following elements:

Consequence: Is it important to the prospective audience? Is it something the audience would pay to know?

Interest: Is the story unusual or entertaining?

Timeliness: Is the material current? Is it a new angle on an old story?

Proximity: Does it take a local angle?

Prominence: Does it involve people or events of prominence?

Here is a link that elaborates on the definition of news even more: http://www.fairtest.org/what-news

There are two types of news: Hard news and soft news. Hard news includes information that has an immediate impact on the people receiving it. This is the news that people need rather than the news that they want. Soft news is the opposite. It’s the news that people want to hear.

When working with the media, it is important to keep certain guidelines in mind. You always want to be honest, establish ground rules in your relationship, answer reporters’ phone calls, and always be sure to give media people what they want, not what you want. You don’t want to overwhelm journalists by bombarding them with too many demands. Reporters are not out to get you – they want to work with you! Don’t try to intimidate reporters and lastly, don’t follow up on stories once you hand them over to the media. Try to get to know journalists’ jobs as well as get to know them as people. If you work with them and respect them, you can maintain a positive relationship.

When undergoing the interview process, you want to be sure to answer questions directly, anticipate touchy questions, and openly discuss matters of public record, even if they are difficult topics. As far as maintaining a professional environment, be sure to know about the topic you are discussing. Keep the mood cordial and calm – never lose your cool or get defensive. Keep everything on the record and offer to help later, if needed, like with a follow-up interview. Finally, be sure to look professional and always be honest!

Here is a great link that can help you deal with media interviews more specifically: http://www.theprcoach.com/media-training/tips-resources/

 The need to correct an error can be an uncomfortable situation. If the error is minor – ignore it! But if it is too big to be ignored, remain calm and contact the reporter immediately. Be as diplomatic as possible and ask the reporter if there is anything you can do in the future to prevent the error from happening again. Here are a few situations you may run into when correcting errors:

– If the story has already been run, ask for a correction – Ask for a correction anyways

– If the reporter is unwilling or unable to fix the error – Don’t go over his or her head

– If all else fails, write a letter to the editor correcting the error – Write a letter to the editor that corrects the error

When placing your message in the media, media directories and media lists can help. Directories list various media outlets and their contact information. Lists contain the same information, but take a more local approach, which is usually more effective.

As far as fitting your information to a media outlet, the key is to read the publication, watch the TV station, or listen to the radio station first in order to learn the style of the outlet. Then tailor your release accordingly. Placement of radio is determined by the format of the station, meaning it’s designed around the type of music it plays or the information it provides. TV placement depends more on the programs and the times of day in which they play.

One of the most common methods for distributing information to the media is by a press kit. Press kits usually contain a table of contents, a news release, a backgrounder or fact sheet and one or two items of collateral such as a brochure or a company magazine. The key to distributing press kits is knowing the needs to those who are receiving it. For some simple steps to designing a press kit, visit: http://advertising.about.com/od/publicrelationsresources/a/presskitstools.htm

The best thing to keep in mind when working with the media is cooperation. It is in your best interest to foster a positive relationship with media representatives. If you respect them and work with them, they will do the same!

By Taylor Haines

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