The media business can be a crazy business, especially these days. For organisations, groups and companies wanting media coverage it can be totally perplexing.
How do you get stories run by mainstream newspapers and websites? Sometimes it seems impossible.
The internet and the growth of so many new websites have changed the media landscape. But I would argue that in many respects the principles of media engagement that applied before the internet age still apply today.
This is a ‘people business’ and you need to get to know the people in the business.
If you want media coverage for your group, company or organisation ask this key question first.
“Who is going to be interested in what we have to say?”
Don’t frame a media strategy until you know the answer to that question.
In general this rule applies: local issues = local media, national issues = national media.
If your issues or subjects are matters of policy that you believe, or hope, the people of Australia are interested in, then you will need to engage the journalists who are members of the federal or state parliamentary press galleries. They are the people who write about policy issues.
They are your key to the thousands or potentially millions of readers, viewers or listeners you hope to reach.
There is no point sending press releases all over Australia if the key media opinion makers you want to engage are all located on the second floor of the Senate side of Parliament House in Canberra. That is where the press gallery is.
These journalists won’t write about your ideas or suggestions unless they know about them. You have to get out and meet them, engage them and let them know why your organisation or group is relevant to them and their audience.
Even these days many companies and non-government organisations send out press releases, often via AAPMedianet, but don’t follow them up with phone calls or visits, press conferences or information sessions.
Journalists can get around 200 emails a day, sometimes more, from a range of organisations. It isn’t possible to read and assess them all. It just isn’t. Sometimes no one reads them.
So my advice is pretty simple. Get out there and interact.
Invite journalists to a forum or information session. Organise a telephone conference on a subject or topic. You can call a press conference. Find out who writes on the subjects that your group is involved with and invite the journalist to coffee. The usual rules about being creepy still apply.
If you meet journalists at public events or policy launches then talk to them and ask them their opinions. In short, get to know them. They are the ones working in the media and they are the ones who understand how it all works.
If you issue a press release then follow it up with a phone call at the very least.
It is important to grow your social media presence. Build your website, consider podcasts, a YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook etc. It is all part of a media jigsaw. Every part is important. If you don’t finish the jigsaw you won’t get the entire picture.