Module 1.

Module 2.
PR events

Understanding the media

Module 4.
Effective media releases

Module 5.
Preparing the newsmaker

Module 6.
Crisis management

Module 7.
Campaign strategy

Module 8.
PR tool kit



Module 3: Understanding the media

One sure need at all newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations is material to fill up their pages and their broadcast time. You must only supply them with the material they need in a way they can use it. Let’s look at some of the criteria they all use in deciding the stories they cover.

Immediacy or Timeliness. Events that happen today are more interesting to the public than events of yesterday or the day before. Sell this element of your story by letting them know that it is happening NOW.

Proximity. People are generally more interested in something that has happened close to home rather than in a distant location, unless there is a local tie to that faraway place. For instance, the expansion of a company in Germany would be interesting to your local media if it might have an impact on your hometown.

Consequence. News can also be “localized” by reporting how an event of an international or national scope will affect them locally.

Conflict. People are drawn to stories dealing with conflict such as stories about war, sports, domestic confrontations, elections, crime, or man against nature.

Oddity. Anything unusual or comical makes for a story that will draw the public’s attention. The press will cover these stories if they don’t perceive that the whole thing was contrived simply for media attention. And, oddity is a very trendy thing. A company that hires when others are laying-off is certainly odd.

Sex. Yes, it still sells ... especially with the media. Recently a story ran all over American media reporting on the sex habits of the majority of Americans. The story ran every 30 minutes on CNN, a lead story. This angle, obviously, must be sold and written in good taste. But when a sexy story runs, people listen.

Emotion. Stories that cause the reader to feel sympathy, anger, sadness or happiness will win an editor’s favor — emotions draw readers into the story. These include stories about animals, children, old people, and disasters.

Prominence. It’s the nature of people to be interested in the activities of well-known people. Presidents and movie stars always draw attention, but there may be prominent people within your community that could be used as an attraction for your media event.

Suspense. New events or situations that have not been concluded are covered eagerly by the press. It’s almost like a mystery story. Will good conquer evil? Will the loser finally win?

Progress. By their nature, new developments and scientific discoveries — whether in medicine or space technology or whatever — are news and of interest, especially if they might affect the reader in some way.

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You should present your story ideas keeping the above angles in mind, and also keeping in mind the different styles of the media:

Print media: provides more in-depth coverage. Print reporters typically have more time and space to spend on a story. Stop just short of writing the story for them ... reporters resent that. But make their job as easy as possible with prepared releases, press packets, quotes.

Television: Pundits call television “pictures with words.” Indeed, television viewers are looking much more intently than listening. Think “visuals” as you put your story concept together. Think action, think background, think color. Use brief quotes, called “sound bites.” The total words in a full 30 minute newscast would only fill 3/4 of a newspaper page if transcribed. You need to be succinct. Television is the primary news source in America. It’s important to use it well.

Radio: Here’s opportunity for more accessible coverage with talk shows, news and public affairs programs. Radio is the most immediate of all the media. You can be on radio RIGHT NOW if your news warrants it. The average American spends 3 hours a day listening to radio. Something important to remember about your radio presentation: radio broadcasting dulls your personality and your energy level over the airwaves. The listeners have no facial cues, no gestures, only your voice and inflection. Boost it almost to the point of sounding silly.

Internet: More and more companies are taking their message directly to their customers and public through self-generated online content. The company can provide a controlled message to a worldwide audience quickly, efficiently, and economically. As Internet access improves around the world, we can expect this to become a first-line source of mass communcation. A writing style for the Internet is like writing for broadcast media: short, bright bits of information targeted at a limited attention span.

Module 4: Effective media releases: how to write a press release and get it published; holding a press conference; the press kit.