Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School PR and the News Media - Ken Haseley, NSPRA 2010

Protest Rally Against Mainstream News Media   ...Image by asterix611 via Flickr
Note: This is cross-posted over on Shane Haggerty's blog, Social Learning Lab.
Last week I attended the National School Public Relations Association 2010 Seminar. In addition to speaking during my brief stay I also took away some great insights from some respected communicators. One such speaker was Ken Haseley from The Ammerman Experience. Haseley gave a session entitled The News Media Today: Ally or Adversary?

In his session, Haseley touched on the shift from the news media being a public service to being more about profit and entertainment. He even pointed out that to a degree the news today is delivered as theater with reporters/anchors as the stars (think high graphics, dramatic music, and celebrity journalists on location, like Anderson Cooper from CNN.) He spoke about creating allies and how to handle the adversarial relationship school PR professionals tend to have with the media. I have attended Ken's sessions before on a variety of topics so I knew his would be one not to miss.

Important take-aways from The News Media Today: Ally or Adversary?

Today's news media:
  • Expect to have more contact with junior-level journalists. 
  • Expect more errors or inconsistencies
  • Communication pros need to do more hand-holding and listen more closely. (Example: During a phone interview, listen to how the reporter sums up your quotes and especially if there's anything that seems to still be confusing at the end.)
  • While the newsrooms may be shrinking, the news landscape is still expanding. Journalists have even greater levels of expectations today in reporting and content production.
Creating Allies:
  • Recognize the PR and media symbiotic relationship.
  • Think in terms of marketing and build relationships.
  • Remember business etiquette. (Example: It's so important for call backs. It's highly frustrating for a journalist to have to wait on you to get back with them. Call back even if you don't have the answer at the time.)
  • You will gain greater confidence (and competence) with media training.
Handling Adversaries:
  • Don't pick a fight with the media. (The old adage is still true, Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel)
  • Learn how to just say no. (Sometimes it's ok to decline an interview request. This works when the story is not about your organization or it's a round-up piece that doesn't rely on your involvement. Say, "thank you, we've decided to pass on this one. Don't forget about us in the future." You still need to call them back.)
  • Have a straight-forward approach. Don't waste a reporter's time. They'll remember you for that too.
  • To fix errors in reporting you can either ignore it or take action. If you take action, Haseley suggests
    1.) Call the reporter to point out the error.
    2.) Ask for a correction.
    3.) Call the editor or news director
    4.) Strategically use letters to the editor or even paid advertising if necessary.
  • Mend fences. You never know when those adversarial reporters are going to wind up as communications and PR colleagues in the future.
In addition to his presentation, Haseley was gracious enough to spend a couple of minutes to share some thoughts for a brief video:

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