Did you hear about the church member who bit a dog because it barked at him?
Well, neither have I, but I got your attention didn’t I?
Last issue, we mentioned how getting reporters from your local paper to write about Seventh-day Adventists is one of the best ways to promote the church and help people understand who Adventists (preferably non-dog biting ones) are. But how exactly do we engage the media?
It means giving the media what they want and they want news that has:
- Impact - Unless quite a few readers will be interested, the event is probably not news. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and think about what they would feel is of interest to their readers.
- Timeliness - News must be current. Notify reporters about one week in advance of what is going to happen. This will give them time to plan their schedule.
- Proximity - Local papers almost always feature locals.
- An element of the unusual -Anything that is different from the run-of-the-mill is potential for a good story. Is someone walking 40km to raise funds for cancer research? Is your church opening its doors to the homeless?
Engaging your local media is somewhat different to writing for your local church newsletter or the Record. Your local reporter is not interested in baptisms or church seminar programs. What interests them are what people are doing. Which means that if a group of young people at your church is going to South Africa for a mission trip, or if a church member has been faithfully ministering to refugees in the community, you have a very high chance of engaging the media.
So now you know what stories interests your local media. What do you do?
Familiarise yourself with the media in your community. Find out the publication day of the local paper. Have within easy reach the contact details of the newsdesk of your local paper or community radio station so that you can get information out to them in time.
Most reporters are happy to take your phone calls if you have a story that interests them. Just remember that reporters often have very tight deadlines and may ask you to call back later. Do so at their preferred time, but also be able to take no for an answer. Hounding a reporter will not convince them to pursue your story idea, but being polite will help to develop a working relationship with them that come in useful when you call them next time with another idea. And by then, you may have a particular reporter’s direct line on speed-dial!
So why not contact your local media about that piece of news you know they want now?
This is the second of a series entitled “Born to be a star” distributed to local church newsletters in Australia and New Zealand. Find out how to write a media release in the next entry.
Technorati tags: PR, media relations, communication, Adventist