As the news media becomes more and more saturated with information,
particularly in a News Mecca like Toronto, journalists find it increasingly
difficult to attend media events. Heres why.
Electronic highways into newsrooms have enabled a shrinking newsroom
workforce to cover more territory because of the concentration of
information into databases and the plethora of internal and external
wire services. The wide spread adoption of E-mail increases information
flow. Working on very short deadlines, most journalists are reluctant
to leave their desks for a story.
According to Angus Reid, in a 1998 media poll, journalists get
an average of 153 news conference invitations per month, with only
32 percent getting a reporter to attend. Also according to the Angus
Reid poll, Canadian news media want spokespeople to come to them
electronically and in person. News conferences are generally
too time-consuming in their opinion.
Your task, as a media relations practitioner is to make your story
as easy-to-digest as possible and readily accessible via electronic
communications. When your story is highly visual through the presence
of celebrity spokespersons or a particular location or geography,
then plan your event with the following in mind:
- Find out what is going on before picking your date and time
pay attention to the news and advanced notification of
news events (i.e. www.newswire.ca)
- Make it downtown, as close to news media outlets as you can
- Make it late morning or early afternoon, to enable media to
get there on their rounds after their morning story meetings and
before late afternoon deadlines
- Capitalize on the visuals by hiring your own photographer and/or
Hiring a photographer/videographer enables you to provide media-ready
images to news outlets or post them online for access to journalists
who are unable to attend your event. Having your own images also
permits you to document the event in your own fashion and provides
a permanent archival record for future reference. Hire someone already
trusted by the news media, perhaps a freelancer who works for a
wire service or news organization. Services provided by well known
and trusted companies such as CP Photo Assignment Services, News
Reach, and Canada News Wire can either be the ultimate insurance
policy in case few to no media show up, or can expand an events
The need for speed is paramount. You should have the final photography
and videography into news media hands by 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. at the
latest. Let them know by voice and e-mail that its coming.
At the event itself, try to engineer a great shot. Trust the news
photographer you have hired they know their business. Move
the chosen photo on a paid wire service. Write a tight caption.
And have an electronic version ready to E-mail to media on demand
Have BETA quality b-roll shot, and if you have budget and time,
edited properly and in media hands by the 4:00 p.m. deadline. Have
hard copy accompany it, and ideally, a CD containing the whole news
kit in electronic form. Make sure you have good clips of all the
spokespeople involved, capture the ambiance of the event, include
wild sound and make the tape short less than eight minutes.
Heres what you can expect to pay: B-roll ranges from $2,000
to $10,000. Mainstream news distribution outlets charge about $10,000
for edited B-roll without satellite transmission. Photography can
range from $500 to $1,000. With photowire transmission, add $500.
Another tip to make things easier for the news media create
a CD ROM media kit that contains as much of the background information
as possible in electronic form including high resolution
digital images. CD ROM production is about $1,000, including creative
and duplication/screen printing. However, do have at least a few
paper-based media kits available. Some news media still like paper!
Webcasting is a way to reach not only news media, but also the
public including many of your key stakeholders. Many variations
can be offered, depending on budget. A completely live webcast,
with video, can cost thousands. But you can simply post still images
quite quickly and relatively inexpensively if you have on-line access
from the event or nearby, and shoot high-resolution digital stills.
Webcasting can also drive visitors to your website, helping generate
important site visits and page views.
News events also offer another important aspect beyond generating
news coverage. You can create events that also include customers
and/or employees. And there is always the intangible effect of a
successful news event. It raises morale within the company. Theres
nothing more exciting for employees than to see their company in
the news in a positive sense. And good news can go a long way in
helping the HR folks to promote a healthy work environment.
Mark LaVigne, APR, is a media relations and media
training specialist who practiced broadcast journalism for five
years and has spent the last 12 years in PR. He can be reached at
Tips for Writing a Successful Video News Release