Some of the Key Elements You Need for a Good Media Release

There are many ways of looking at a media release.  The bottom line is it’s a release of information designed to get media interested in your story.

So the first thing you need to do is have an attractive and catchy headline.

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Some people will tell you a headline should only be one line.  That’s simply not true.  A headline can be as long as you need it to be – so long as you are summarising the story and giving the reader a clear picture of what the story is about.

At Media Key, we frequently write headlines that may run for three paragraphs or more.  This has never been to the detriment of a PR campaign.  The key is to capture the information and distil it.  The key is to tell people in a number of sentences what the story is all about.

There are no ‘rules’ about exactly how you should do a media release.

The following may assist when you are putting a release together.

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Firstly, be aware journalists only have so much time.  Jobs are being cut back more and more in the media so in an ideal situation a media release runs for no longer than two pages.

Secondly, in those two pages ‘tell the story’ and give plenty of facts and figures.  Tell the media what the story is about.  Attribute quotes to the right spokesperson and give statistics and examples using those statistics.

Stay away from ‘jargon’ and keep your information tight and punchy.  It’s important that anybody reading the story can understand the messages in the media release and understand what the story is all about.  If you get lost in waffle, that’s what is going to happen to your reader.  It’s really important to keep things simple.

Using the old KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – is always a good idea.  Keep everything bright, fresh and simple.

Make sure there is a clear media contact at the end of every media release.  Make sure that phone number is going to be picked up at any time if a journalist calls.  The last thing journalists want is to call a phone number because they are interested in a story, and then they can’t reach anybody.

Memorable lines are a vital part of any media release.  It’s not just a question of giving out statistics.  You need to paint pictures to highlight the problem or issue.  Consider carefully how you can create a memorable line.  Consider also the visuals behind any story.

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Many members of the media are going to want visuals.  They may need images for a website.  If it is TV, they are looking for good pictures.

Accordingly, at the end of your release, there should be a section called ‘Visual Opportunities’ where you highlight the visuals to media and show them what is possible.

Finally, the last thing you want to do is become known as somebody who will peddle anything just for the sake of it.  Be sparing when issuing media releases.  It’s always best to issue a media release because it has genuine news value.  That way you become known for issuing material that is always worth reading and always worth considering.  This has to be your ultimate goal.  You want media to know you mean business and know and understand their business.

By Ross Woodward, Principal of Media Key.  Media Key Public Relations has written hundreds of media releases for dozens and dozens of clients over the years.  Ross is a former ABC/BBC journalist.  Media Key is one of Australia’s leading PR firms.


Getting ready to talk with media.

Any media interview is obviously an opportunity to get your point across.

Be aware that interviewers aren’t going to ask you a set list of questions and they are not going to ask you the questions you want.

The first thing you must do is prepare, prepare and prepare.

Know what you want to say and how you plan to say it.

Figure out what tracks you plan to follow.  Decide what points you want to raise.  Be clear about what you want to say.

It’s a good idea to rehearse your points.  Go over them with a colleague.  Become clear about what you want to say.

Work out how you will answer the hardest possible questions.  The easy ones aren’t really the problem.  The hard ones are.

Accordingly you need to decide how you plan to react when you get the hardest possible questions.

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In theory you should know which are the hardest questions.  If you are not entirely sure, get a small group of people together and go through this.

In preparation for all interviews, know what sort of audience you are talking to and what they read or what their demographic is.  How old is this audience?  How do you think they might like to be talked to?  Consider all of this.

On the day itself – when doing an interview – arrive promptly.  It’s preferable in our view to get their half an hour earlier.  You may think this is ‘over the top’ however it gives you time to go back through points in your mind, it gives you time to settle into the media environment and it gives you time to relax ahead of the interview.

With any interview you need to go in relaxed and very focused.

When doing interviews, seek to bring the interview back to your own points wherever you can.  There is nothing the matter with that.  You are there to speak on behalf of your own agenda … so set the agenda and be clear about what you want to say.

Use bridge phrases.  For instance, “Whilst we are on this subject, I’d like to make this point …” or “I think it’s important to remember the bigger picture and the bigger picture is XXX”.

When you use these kinds of phrases, even if you are not totally sure where you are heading, the reality is that by the time you’ve used the phrases, you will have automatically have worked out where you want to head.

In any interview it’s perfectly ok – obviously – for you to disagree with an interviewer.  You are not there to please them.  You are there to state your case and make the points you wish to make.  Accordingly you may come up with phrases like ‘That’s just not true …” or “I couldn’t possibly agree with that because …”.

Be clear.  Be direct.  Be firm.  Stand your ground.

Let the interview breathe like wine.  What we mean by that is take a breath at different times and pause on your information.  If you have a really big point to make, build up to it and use some pausing for effect.

An interview is not an after dinner speech.  Accordingly, you must let the interviewer ask their questions.  Don’t try and hog all the airtime.  It’s a game of verbal tennis and – as such – you must put the ball back over their net and give them the opportunity to ask the questions they want and then answer the questions.

If an interviewer has highlighted something that you know is not accurate, it’s ok to straighten than information out.  An appropriate phrase might be “I know it may seem that way but the reality is …”.

Always look at the interviewer when you can.  Keep body language friendly.  Don’t become distracted with what is happening elsewhere.  If you are in a radio studio there may be a lot going on around you.  Ignore that and stay focused on the mission.

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If you are doing TV interviews, dress for business and look like you mean business.  Dress as you feel comfortable from a business perspective – it is most important you feel comfortable in the outfit you are wearing.  Make sure you have nothing that is going to start making noises in the studio … such as jewellery or a watch.

Some other quick key points:

  • Ask the interviewer how long you have got.
  • Become aware of that time frame.
  • Establish whether the interview is live or not (many are live).
  • Don’t try to become the new best friend of the interviewer.  The interviewer is there to do a job.  So are you.
  • Know off by heart the top ten key points you are going to get across no matter what.
  • Take some notes with you and ideally use those notes subtly during the interview.
  • Try to relate points that your audience will understand.
  • Paint pictures with words of points you are seeking to get across.
  • Don’t use long winded phrases – keep your information tight and to the point.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of becoming aggressive or rude should the interviewer appear to be rude to you.
  • Know your subject and key points.  Give out contact websites and phone numbers twice.
  • Always be helpful in your attitude – you want the listener/viewer to feel that you were seeking to help the interviewer as much as possible whilst being clear about your points.
  • Become very aware that all interviews will only give you so much time so keep your answers tight, bright and sharp.  This is one of the absolute keys to interviews and ideally have some strong memorable lines that will stick in people’s minds.

 

Written by Ross Woodward – Company Principal of Media Key.  Media Key runs dozens of PR campaigns every year and has run hundreds of campaigns.  Ross has appeared on national TV and numerous radio programs over a lengthy period of time.


Handling a PR Crisis

One of the first things some companies do if a crisis hits is the worst thing you can do – HIDE.

The thinking seems to go along the lines that if no comment is made, that will work well as a strategy and stop the story developing.

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Rarely is this the case … media are going to continue to pursue a story and if they cannot get comment from you, they are going to do all they can to find others who will make a comment.

It is at this point that you really do lose control over the story.  Your side of the story is not getting heard.  Any perspective you have simply is not added to the mix.  All this … plus the story rolls on.

Think about it from this point of view … and it’s something I have considered many times over many years … WHAT is the first thing YOU think when an organisation refuses to comment on a story?

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Do you think they have something to hide?  Or can you see their point of view?

This is why – by and large – it is best to get on the front foot if you are managing a crisis.  Make media aware you are ready to take some questions – and to speak out.  Make them aware that you are happy to do an interview.  Then … do exactly that.

In preparation, ensure you have covered all possible bases and be ready to answer the hardest of questions.  KNOW what you want to say – and HOW you are going to say it.  Be clear, concise and passionate about your perspective.  Audiences know instinctively when they are being spun a line… so ensure authenticity is a key part of your mix.  Speak from the heart as well as the head … and always address any complex questions head on.  Avoiding issues will look like that … so don’t.

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Finally it’s vital you respond in a timely and very efficient manner.  Too many organisations take the view that media will need to fit in with their agenda.  It is far better to know all the deadlines media are facing, find them out and seek to meet them.  It is much better to get media to realise you want to work with them… not against them.  Know when people will need comments by, and do all you can to meet those needs.  This may get you much better results in the long run.

By Ross Woodward

Ross Woodward leads MEDIA KEY.  Media Key does PR for organisations in Sydney, Melbourne and around Australia.  It is one of Australia’s leading PR agencies creating high impact campaigns for many different clients.  


Truth be told ….

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In an era of hi-tech fast moving communication, when a news story can break anywhere on planet earth and be before us in  seconds, there’s still one casualty suffering too much in the world of PR.

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And truth be told, that casualty is critical to any organisation’s reputation.

Yep, it’s nothing more complex that the plain old truth.

We still hear endless talk in the media of “spin”, “spin doctors” and media management.

It is, of course, one of the realities we live with.

However at Media Key we have always believed that the truth is a powerful weapon of choice.

If you build a PR campaign based – from the very start – on the key truths you are wanting to promote you cannot go far wrong.

If, right at the start, you indentify the key truths you need to get across, you will not stray far from the real path.

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And part of what we are getting at is this.  We ALL know what truth sounds like, feels like, reads like and looks like.  We all know when we are being snowed or bombarded with waffle.  Waffle looks and smells like waffle … and in our view it never takes a PR campaign forward. Treating the audience like they are fools is not going to work for you.

We have recently been helping a key education expert who wants Australia to know that it’s high time schools were given more autonomy.  He rightly points out that schools – if given more autonomy – will perform better … and that will lift Australia in the overall rankings ultimately.Our campaign was well received by many members of the media …and was focused on the truth of the matter.

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Another campaign we ran recently looked at the issue of ice in indigenous communities …and how sadly this most dangerous drug is tearing some communities apart.  We generated huge TV exposure for the campaign … again all based on the blunt reality of what is really going on in communities.

Researching any issue in depth is always a critical part of getting to the actual truth of the matter …and we know that this has to be central to any campaign.

Finally, truth be told all campaigns need to spell out the reality of the problem or issue you are wanting to sell or promote in a clean, clear and incisive manner … with lashings of truth.  THAT will always make the difference.

Ross Woodward is a big fan of the way it is… and all Media Key PR campaigns focus on truth related messages.

Media Key is a leading PR agency working in Melbourne, across Sydney and the nation to make a difference.

Media Key is a leading unique Australian  PR firm focused on truth.


The weapon of choice….

Stop bagging the media.

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There’s a real tendency these days to bag the media.

They are too “negative.”  They don’t “help.”  They just want to “do people over”.

The accusations fly thick and fast.  All too often.

Here is my experience.

MOST people I have encountered in the media – over a 20 plus year period – are hard working people who are trying to do their job…which is to inform, report and entertain.  They want to get stories right – and get the facts right.

What is more is media often adopt and go out of their way to help with good causes – because they care and because they connect with positive energy.  In bucketloads.  We love this!!!

Media today work fast and have to move at a bullet speed… because of ever increasing deadlines…and fewer and fewer staff.

It is TIME we said THANKS for a healthy and highly productive media more often.

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God knows, in countries where there’s no or little free press it IS a truly truly truly scary thing.

My view – put simply – is that if someone’s suing a major media outlet like Fairfax … and I am a BIG fan of Fairfax – it is all too often because there IS a story there.  Not always the case… however journos often risk their neck because they want the facts out there …and the truth.

And that brings me to a very key point.  Isn’t that what we expect of media?  Not to be messed about.  Not to be stonewalled.  But media that tell it the way it is… and that’s always a very powerful weapon.


Single most ridiculous thing happening to media

The single most ridiculous thing happening to Australian media right now is also happening across the world.

CUTBACKS.

Jobs being chopped as advertising in some parts of the media dwindles … and landscapes change.

This then creates uncertainty, insecurity and instability for the hard working people in media… just trying to do their job.

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It’s hard – right now – for many people in media.

It is going to get tougher.

It’s a brave new world.

CHANGE is the watchword.

Flexibility is the key.

A classic example is major newspapers… there to educate.

There to inform.

There to entertain.

Written by highly skilled personnel – people who CARE.

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A GREAT current example globally is the Boston Globe.

They investigated abuse over a long period of time … you can see their amazing work on show in the Academy award winning movie “Spotlight .”
Yet.

As jobs are hacked everywhere because of many factors including less print advertising you have to keep asking this.

WHO will keep ask the questions?

WHO will fight for people who have been oppressed?

WHO will push forward to get the answers we need?

WHO will keep the bastards honest?

WHO will offer a clear view untainted by what they’ve been told to write or broadcast?

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This is WHY we must have a properly resourced independent media …everywhere.

Without it life will be poorer, hazier and harder at times.

When you douse a beacon there’s less light.

Sure, all media has to be viable.

Sure it often has to be as profitable as it can.

Sure … as well … it HAS to be strong.

Strong … and lighting the way.

Ross Woodward has worked in and around Australian media since 1987… including the ABC , Herald-Sun and Age (worked for) and MOST media outlets (worked with). He doesn’t like seeing lean whippets being forced to run big races.


Stop fluffing about!

We live in a savvy snappy hi-tech world moving faster than a speeding bullet.

Millennials know automatically when they are being snowed.

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It’s become clear that the public – the very public you address – expect and want to be told the way it is.

They don’t expect people to spin a line or outright lie to them – though all too often that’s what they get.

So … if you’re out there pushing an important message for the public to take notice of … STOP fluffing about.

Tell it the way it is – and speak your truth. The audience will appreciate you all the more.

We ALL know when someone’s spinning a line … so don’t.

We ALL know the obvious sound of insincerity. So be sincere.

We ALL know the clear sound of a cover up – so get to the point …and tell your truth.

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Prepare your messages carefully. Take the time to see how they sound.

Will they convey what you are really trying to say?

Is it in plain speak? Can ANYONE understand your key points?

Do they sound sincere?

Companies who get to the point and communicate in a clean reasoned manner are always going to be listened to more.

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Ross Woodward runs Media Key – a successful Australian PR company with over 25 years direct experience with just about every type of media.


Perception is Everything

Perception is reality.

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When you really really stop and ask ‘is that true?’ you can’t always be certain. Indeed, something that is absolutely true to you may indeed be complete nonsense as far as someone else is concerned.

One of the things that we find fascinating in the world of PR is perception and how important that is for organisations.

There is no question that for any major company … or any major not-for-profit … you want to be seen as credible and at the forefront of excellence. You want to be seen as an organisation driving everything forward in a brilliant way.

Accordingly, how you are seen is just critical. Are you being seen for the right reasons? Are you visible? Are the right people in politics hearing and seeing your messages? Is the community hearing you loud and clear? If not, then you’ve got a very real perception problem.

We are living in the age of monster information. A time when information gathering is on a massive scale and sometimes there’s far too much of it. It’s doubling too … at an alarming rate.

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So how you are perceived really is critical. PR is a vital tool in achieving that goal. In putting you in front of the audience. In getting an audience to understand what you have to say – and why.

We work in a dedicated way – as a leading PR agency in Australia – to help organisations achieve just that. Often the message isn’t getting out. We know how to fix that. How to package it. How to tell the story.

Recently Canon produced an extraordinary video showing just how important perception is. Six photographers met a man called Michael. Six photographers met the same person … but were told very different things about who he was. For one photographer, the photo session was to capture images of a fisherman. Another was photographing the same man … but that photographer thought Michael was loaded to the hilt with money. Another was snapping Michael the psychic.

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Six realities … one truth … six different images … six different perceptions. Watch the video for yourself. It’s extraordinary. It’s clever. It’s funny. It’s true. We can all see people in all kinds of different ways and different lights.

Any PR agency in Melbourne or PR agency in Sydney has to be working hard to ensure you are visible, credible and perceived in the best possible light. Powerful light is why we are all here. We are all here to shine.
Watch the amazing photo shoot here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TyPfYMDK8

Ross Woodward runs Media Key… a leading PR agency in Australia. It operates in Melbourne, across Sydney and other capital cities. He knows that we are all here to shine…


Nerves Will Get the Better of You

Anybody who is doing a media interview and says they are not nervous is someone you should truly worry about.

Nerves are an essential part of any media interview.

All opportunities to do live or pre-recorded media interviews are an opportunity for you to get your messages across and explain your organisation’s perspective.

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If you go to air with no nervousness, there is a central element missing. That element is adrenalin. Without that, your performance may be flat.

To get the best out of any media performance, you simply have to have “an edge”.  AND you have to be ready for anything.

Without doubt, if you go into an interview over confidently, you may get caught out.

Media Key Public Relations has trained many major executives over the years in effective media handling techniques. We are a leading Australian PR firm with huge experience in the field.

We have trained people all over Australia and helped organisations out of all kind of crisis issues.  Crisis management is critical because brands can be damaged in minutes by negative media exposure.

This includes massive organisations like Myer, BP, Shell and many more.

We have assisted all types of people getting ready for media experiences.

One of the most critical things you must do is be in the right mindset.

Put simply … you should never do a media interview until you are good and ready.

You need to place yourself in a state of mind where you can easily connect with all the information you want to impart – and be ready to use that information as needed.

Under no circumstances should you ever believe you are in full control. You are not.

The media interviewer is in control of how the interview is going to be done … and what questions will be asked.

The media are not going to tell you what they plan to ask in advance – nor should you ask.  In fact, you knowing may make things more complex!

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You can control how you react and what you say. You can control how you come across.  You cancontrol your tone.

You can control your key messages … and how you choose to use them.

Prior to any media interview with any organisation always prepare a minimum of ten simply bullet points.

We call them “must says”.  The things you simply MUST say.

These are key points that you are going to say no matter what is asked.

Prepare and  hone your key messages carefully.

Within the first three minutes highlight the KEY points you are trying to get across and the reasons behind those points. Don’t wait to be asked.

It is vital you use passion and authenticity.

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It’s critical you stay on message and know where you plan to take the interview – as best you can.

If you are there to follow the lead of the interviewer and answer all the questions you are asked, you effectively have almost no control. If you do that, you will be herded towards the relevant paddock by the media interviewer.

Generate key messages that you want to get across. Include interesting and catchy lines that relate to your points.

To prepare properly allow anything up to a few hours (minimum) where you make a list of any possible lines you wish to use.

People that work with you may want to add information into the melting pot…. the more points you have initially the better.

Once you have a list of messages it is then vital to edit them down.

Ultimately you should have at least five central points you want to make in any interview … no matter what is asked.

On top of that you should an additional five points you intend to make if you can get to them.

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Obviously it is very important to stay constantly composed, constantly clear and constantly focused on what you are trying to say.

Use explanations where you can.  If you can include some humour, it will assist with the messaging.

When preparing your bullet points be aware that you want people to remember what you are saying and be interested in your messages.

Add dramatic language … it is going to help you.

Do not react with aggression to any interviewer – it is business. Stick to you guns, explain your points and stay focused.

Finally, expect the unexpected and embrace that moment when you get a question that you could not have possible foreseen.

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If a curveball comes from nowhere, you may wish to repeat the question in your first line and say, “I really am glad you asked that”. By the time you have repeated the message and expressed your gratitude, it is likely your incredible brain will have found some kind of answer to a question you never expected.

All media interviews are a performance. It is not a natural environment.

You have every right to your nervousness beforehand.

It is that exact adrenalin that will deliver a killer performance.

Ross Woodward has media trained hundreds of people over the years. He has also done literally hundreds of interviews – some on TV and many on radio. He cannot understand why people don’t want to enjoy media interviews more because they are always an opportunity to get the message across.

We are a Melbourne based PR firm operating across Australia.

Media Key is a leading PR firm in Australia passionate about helping companies deliver clear messages to relevant audiences…

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Passion is no ordinary word

How’s your dial tone? Indeed.

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How is your dial tone?

I am old enough to remember phones where you put your finger in to dial the number.

Fax machines.

The birth of the webby thing.

I do not remember Gondwanaland.

Communicators come in all kinds of shapes and sizes –  and all kinds of tones.

WHO are some of the most gifted communicators right now?

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Sir David Attenborough.

Why?

Because the man stands for passion.  He IS passion.

If he speaks, you listen … because you know he cares.  Beyond.  Belief.

I’ve had the honour of doing two major launches at which the special guest was the legendary Paul Keating.

Anyone who invented superannuation has to be a legend.  Obviously.

Both times passion just dripped out of him.  Anytime he speaks out in media these days, you sit in awe at his skill.

This brings me to a personal favourite topic of mine,

For Cookie Monster, it’s cookies.

For moi, it’s PASSION.

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As Neil Young once asked … “Are you passionate?”

In any media interview passion must be there.

Front.

Left.

Centre.

Front.

And centre.

And left.

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When an audience hears you mean it, they know you mean it.

When they hear you trotting out a company line, it sounds like … well … guess what.

Too many people in media – and heaven knows why – lack this essential cooking ingredient.

PR firms in Melbourne and
PR firms in Sydney need to focus on this more.  Without doubt.

We love Bruce McAvaney because he loves the game.

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We love Ed Sheeran because he means it … and can sell out Madison Square Garden with just him and a guitar for that very reason.

We love Kevin McCloud because he loves architecture and wants to kiss it.

So when you’re doing your next media performance… ask yourself this … if you know the messages and know the lines … and have command over all the information …are you ready to unleash the passion ???

When was the last time you said I am sick of that person … they are just too passionate?

Ross Woodward is principle passionmonger at Media Key.  Media Key is a
PR firm in Melbourne.  We service all areas of Australia.  We’re one of Australia’s most skilled PR firms.  Proudly communicating since 1991.  Don’t remember Gondwanaland.