|A media scrum may be part of your event.|
Written by Robyn T. Braley
We started our media series by giving you ideas for story angles that would attract the media. One media draw would be a high profile speaker. Another would be the presentation of a large cheque to a community not-for-profit agency.
We suggested media might be interested in a story about the experience of a team that just returned from
a developing nation where they personally delivered a small fleet of refurbished ambulances.
Today your club may be presenting a Citizen of the Year Award to a community leader. Or, the Rotary clubs in your area may be the host club for your zone conference that has a myriad of interesting keynotes and breakout sessions.
All of the photos seen in this post were shot at a political party leadership forum hosted by the Calgary West Rotary Club. At the time, the club had 50 active members.
The event drew a turn away crowd of 150 with a media gallery of 60+ reporters. The candidates, Ric MCiver, Jim Prentice and Thomas Lukaszuk were vying for the leadership. The party was voted out of office a year later.
There are hundreds of possible reasons (angles) why the media may be coming to cover your event. But now, the big day has arrived. What next?
How We Got Here
- We provided the key elements of a well crafted news release
- We listed the components of an effective media kit
- We provided ideas for creating a quality media distribution list
- We explained how to treat media fairly and professionally
A week before the event you sent out a tickler to give the media a heads up. You also sent or dropped off media kits to provide the background to the story and to further pique media their interest.
This morning you updated the news release under the heading TODAY and distributed it by email around 8:30 AM. You may have even phoned targeted media to make sure they got it and to personally invite them to attend.
It is 15 minutes before the start time. You see the first media pulling up in their news cruisers and satellite trucks. Now what do you do?
|Global TV goes live just |
before the event starts.
What You Need to Know
Reporters are on tight timelines. They want to get in, get their story, and then get out and on to the next story or back to their office or station to write or edit their piece to meet their deadline. They will love you to death if you are well organized and efficient in giving them what they need.
Meet them at the Door
If you are expecting a large number, have an assistant stationed by the entry door ready to greet them and take them to you. Then, you provide a quick overview and ask them what they need by way of interviews or photos.
It goes without saying that you will have identified key spokespeople and prepared them a couple of days before the event. Ask them to sit close by and be ready if a reporter wants to speak to them. You never want to have to waste time by having to send a runner to find them. Ever!
If a keynote speaker is the main story, let the media know they will be available for interviews after the event.
Media kits and news releases periodically get lost amidst the Tsunami of daily information that is sent to the media every day. Have extra kits available.
Some reporters or photographers may have only received a brief text from their editor assigning the event. They may have little background.
O.K., I’m exaggerating. By media gallery I mean the space at the back of the room where TV camera people can set up their tripods.
Glibness aside, if you have an event with an audience of 500 or more, you should consider renting a small stage 2-3 feet high. It will allow TV cameras to shoot over the heads of the audience. You may want to set it up in the middle of the crowd.
You will also need a long narrow table and chairs for print, blog or radio journalists. Fill only one side allowing them to face the action.
TV videographers will want to shoot “B” roll. What is “B” roll?
Let me explain it this way. Let’s imagine you are watching your story on the 6:00 pm TV news.
You watch as the news anchor introduces the story. The video cuts to images of people coming into your venue, others seated and waiting for the event to start or perhaps the building sign or other relevant shots that provide context.
“B” roll is often used when a speaker on stage is filmed speaking. In the final edit, while he or she is speaking, the editor may cut to wide shots of the audience and close-ups of individuals listening intently. That is “B” roll or background shots.
As stated in an earlier post, my company usually gives photographers and videographers free range depending on the story. We allow them to go on stage to shoot cool shots of the speaker with the audience in the background or to go into the audience or to explore other creative ideas for shots.
The bottom line? The more interesting the content, the better the story will be. It is always a good day when a feature is picked up in other cities due to the strength of the story supported by interesting images.
Most interviews will happen after your event. At that time, journalists may do an interview with people milling about in the background or go into a quiet hall or outside to use the building sign as background.
If you expect a large media turnout, book a nearby empty room. Some journalists may ask for 1 on 1 time after the scrum.
What is a scrum? The term is taken from rugby where the team members of two teams go shoulder to shoulder to push each other out of the way in order to get the ball.
In media terms, a scrum is when 2 to 60+ media gather round the spokesperson and start firing questions. They follow professional protocol and tend not to shout over each other while the wait for their turn to ask a question. You don’t need to manage it except to signal the end is near.
As reporters arrive, tell media you will scrum after the event and they will know exactly what you mean.
Your purpose in staging the event is to profile your organization and its connection to the main story in the best possible way. Suggest background ideas like an interesting wall, two arm chairs face-to-face in a corner or your organizations trade show booth.
For our event, we rented a full length backdrop made of heavy black drapes.
For our event, we rented a full length backdrop made of heavy black drapes.
From bitter experience, I can say that fern leaves behind a person’s head will look like they are growing out of their ears or like the ancient headdress of some mystic cult.
If you are staging an event where media want to record audio, you will need to provide a direct box. A direct box feeds the audio mix from the event sound system into a multi-outlet box.
Why is this necessary? First, to provide the best possible sound. Second, media may want to broadcast live or live stream the event. Quality matters.
Make sure the WiFi connections at your venue can accommodate extra traffic. At a minimum, print reporters may want to write and file stories as the event proceeds.
Service organizations traditionally fill event roles with volunteer labor. But, staging a media is all about creating good impressions. If there is any danger of pops, crackles, squeals, blackouts, freezes or other technology disasters, contract in a professional media production company.
They will provide sound systems, quality microphones (as many as needed), cables, direct boxes, high capacity audio mixers, video/powerpoint equipment and other support. Most of all, they will provide an operator who produces events for a living.
Why is this important? Media events happen quickly and the technology must work flawlessly.
In my media training seminars, I tell what happened at the forum.
We were about to start the meeting when 3 last minute reporters arrived needing connections. Their media outlets planned to live stream the event to 100s of thousands of viewers and listeners.
Our direct box was full. A miracle happened and our technician magically made it happen. We started the meeting and the media coverage was huge.
Our story dominated the 24 hour news cycle thanks to the talents of a problem solving technician. Each candidates Comunications Directors told us afterwards that our event was the best of the campaign. That felt good!
The side benefit is that every time I see the politicians who participated, they remember our team, the event and they remember Rotary!
Leading Questions; What do You Think?
What experiences have you had with your not-for-profit organization organization? I’d like to hear your opinions and ideas. Please comment below. I'll respond!
Robyn Braley is a marketing specialist, keynote speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. He has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. Robyn has placed hundreds of traditional and new media stories about Rotary and other organizations.