Initiating media contact
• It is worth working to build up a relationship with local media. Making yourself valuable to a news organization in good times means you already have rapport if a negative story breaks.
• Let the media know of positive events: launching new projects, getting a grant, opening a building, success stories.
• Be aware of interesting photo ops – not the handing over of cheques – people pictures.
• Local radio in particular is hungry for items to fill daily local bulletins.
• Determine your target audience and go for the news organisation most likely to reach them – community paper, Marlborough Express, radio with your demographic.
• Ensure that others in your organisation are informed and welcoming if a journalist has been invited to an event.
If you are contacted by a journalist:
• get a rough idea about what they want to talk about, if they are talking to others, what is the angle of the story. If necessary stall for time & say you'll ring back .
• you only get one chance at an interview, it is better to take time to be properly prepared.
• if necessary consult with someone else, refer to CEO
• do ring back – be aware of their deadlines.
• don't allow the reporter to prompt you to say what they want – what they think the story is
• at any point it is OK to say "I don't think I can answer that" or "I'll find out the answer that and get back to you."
• Have your 'key messages' in front of you and use the approach: "I can't answer that but what I can say is..."
• Try to avoid 'no comment' replies. Explain why you can't answer a question or refer the reporter to someone who can.
• 'Picture the headline' – there is more than one person involved in print media publication and your story may be simplified en route.
• don't assume a relationship of trust. 'Off the record' comments can appear in print.
• find out if the conversation is being taped
• make yourself available for follow up.
Be aware that journalists are working under pressure
• deadlines • pressure from chief reporter to get the story • competition to get the story