Ten Things You Need to Know about the Media
To successfully generate publicity over the long term, you need to understand some things about the media.
1. The role of the media is not necessarily to give you publicity. The media’s job is to present a fair picture of what they learn.
2. The media are not “desperate for material.” They want good ideas and good sources, but generally they have more story ideas than they could ever pursue.
3. Reporting is difficult. A journalist must be able to recognize a story, ask good questions, deal with people at all levels of an organization and write well.
4. The media have a lot of constraints. They have to balance hard and soft news, local and international coverage, good news and bad. They have bosses. They have advertisers. They have to develop stories people will pay to read, listen to or watch. In this age of “citizen journalism,” this is becoming more and more challenging.
5. For the most part, the media don’t “have” to cover you. They have to cover the government, a few major businesses and some influential people. Other than that, “to cover or not to cover” is their decision.
6. That decision is not always logical. The media will surprise you. Sometimes I’m asked why the media covered this or that story. My answer, frequently, is that they covered it. They could have easily covered a different story.
7. Which leads to the next point, one that often surprises people. The media don’t develop all their story ideas. Many of them come from PR professionals or from other news events. Indeed, developing good story ideas is one of the best ways to develop a good relationship with the media.
8. That’s because, as a rule, the media are busy, facing almost constant deadlines. Many journalists have to write, shoot and edit video, post blog posts and do a variety of other duties. Most cover many different stories and work on several stories each day. Journalists can easily be involved with more than 700 different stories a year. They may receive hundreds of e-mails, get dozens of calls, and participate in several meetings a day. Many have deadlines throughout the day, because they are producing material for both print and online. They are often rushed, facing tight deadlines. It is not a job for the faint-hearted.
9. Which is why no journalist will know your organization as well as you do. A journalist can be extremely competent and still be relatively unfamiliar with your company, industry or both.
10. And finally, most members of the media are objective, conscientious and responsible. Most are nice. However, even if they are friendly, with rare exception they are not your friends.
Keep these facts in mind when dealing with the media. It will help you be effective.