Part 1, Know Your Media
With today’s changing media, it’s nearly impossible to write a comprehensive and durable directive on the Dos and Don’ts of Media Relations for writers, or anyone. But with the intense competition for acquiring visibility in the public arena, it’s vital to make becoming a pro at your interaction with the media a vital element of your authoring strategies.
If you’re an effective wordsmith, you know the importance of both the written and spoken word. Of course, in today’s electronically-driven world, a word is not necessarily a word. With shortened forms of communication being perceived as ideal, varieties of abbreviations abound. Unfortunately, these shortcuts can lead to confusion. Not even acronyms can be relied on to carry identical meanings when used within the same language. Consider AMA. While it is used for both the American Medical Association and the Arizona Medical Association, it also stands for Ask Me Anything. Then there’s also COD, which in commerce means Cash on Delivery; in another context, it means Call of Duty. So, when dealing with acronyms, you have to be clear about which meaning you are attributing to the abbreviation.
Regardless of whether you are writing fiction, non-fiction, or commercial text like ads and commercials, the key to effective communication can be found in determining the demographics of your target market. Luckily, when we consider the demographics of media outlets, most are designed to appeal to a specific segment of the population. This can save considerable time, energy, and money when you wish to gain the attention of a media outlet’s readers, viewers, and/or listeners.
In the twentieth century, media generally referred to newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and signage. Today there are expanded versions of these media, as well as the Internet which has exploded across the globe with constantly evolving permutations. Just examining today’s political campaigns demonstrates that effectively utilizing static, electronic and mobile vehicles of communication provides unlimited choices for embedding a branded message—as long as someone is willing to pay for message preparation, if not actual placement of the resulting advertisement or infomercial.
But what alternatives are available to those who cannot afford to pay for research, graphic design, or advertising slots? Fortunately, even an individual with limited resources can find opportunities for communicating with the public that are cost-effective, if not actually free of charge. Today’s hottest communication outlets are in the realm of social media. Like other media platforms, you must be savvy about your use of them…but we’ll leave that topic for another post.…
One of the simplest means of getting free media coverage lies in earning their attention. After analyzing a media outlet’s format and demographics, you can shape text that will help meet their need to generate timely and noteworthy coverage of relevant persons and events. Keep in mind that short and concise presentations of the facts and even articles receive preferential treatment. If you capture their interest, a journalist can always request quotes and additional facts, but they will not want to edit material you send regarding a topic they may feel has little media value.
When you’re not facing a promotional deadline, you can explore aspects of developing long-term relationships with your media contacts. In short, you need to develop friendships that will prove beneficial to your marketing programs. While this may seem simplistic, building bonds with the people who regularly communicate with the public continues to be a cost effective ways for writers and artists [as well as non-profit organizations] to stimulate awareness of their work.
If you meet someone in passing, you’ll want to make the most of the opportunity to get acquainted. But when you have the time, you should perform at least cursory research of the person you desire to meet. Whether they’re a columnist, commentator, or a department head within a media outlet, a brief Internet search should reveal details about where they attended school, organizations to which they belong, and personal interests you may share. To maximize the results of your effort, you may wish to utilize more than one search engine. Next, you can then strengthen your avenues of connectivity by researching their professional output: Their articles, columns, or books; programs; videos, etc.
What is the current focus of their work? What are their clients expecting? Can you find a gap, current or recurring, in what they offer the public? In newspapers, this is called the news hole. If you’re lucky there will be a gap just waiting to be filled with your data. If that is the case, your media contact will be truly grateful for your input and will welcome hearing from you in the future.
Once you have completed your background research, you can strategize meeting or expanding your relationships within the media outlets you are targeting. If you’ll be attending the same function, consider sending notes or emails expressing your desire to see them. Or, if you have just attended an event at which they spoke, you can send congratulatory messages commenting on your appreciation of their work.
The bottom line is that communicating directly with members of the media yields invaluable results: Personal connectivity with people who may be able to quickly act upon information you share with them; opportunities for networking with outstanding members of your virtual or real community; potential for entering into partnerships that can help you achieve your goals and objectives. And, by making the effort to demonstrate genuine care about their concerns regarding appropriate topics and meeting deadlines, you will not only attain increased public visibility, but you will end up participating in new and sometimes exciting events.
Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant
For examples of concise print and broadcast media releases, visit: http://www.imaginingswordpower.com/media/media_release_samples.html
To learn about Prospect for Murder and other writing projects, visit my author’s website at Https://www.JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com. For ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit my website: Https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com