About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

How an Attitude of Service can Impact Your Rotary Media Event

How you treat the media will impact your story
Written by Robyn T. Braley

Part 1 An Attitude of Gratitude 

You have organized a great media event to announce an exciting new program that will benefit the entire community. 

You crafted a killer news release and carefully assembled a media kit packed full of relevant information. 

You’ve contacted the media by email, social media and telephone. You dropped off or mailed media kits that answered all the questions. Spokes-people are on stand-by. 

Now you wait on pins and needles hoping - even praying - journalists will come through the door to cover your event.

Most reporters love covering not-for-profit stories. They recognize that they can have a role in making a difference in your community by helping to get the word out about projects and events that will change lives.

However, news happens quickly. Assignments can change on a dime as I can attest from personal experience. 

Media can be on their way to cover your story only to be diverted to the scene of a small plane crash, a car crash or to where a  body has been discovered under suspicious circumstances. I remember the time a professional sports team in our city traded a popular player. 

Another time a TV crew arrived ready to cover our event. A second cruiser from a competing station rolled up, stopped, and then left when they saw that 'the other guys' had beaten them to the punch.

It can get worse. You may have attracted a large media turnout only to have the story killed or it's size reduced due to an explosion, a political scandal or natural disaster happening.  

That is just how the business works. The content of a newscast or entire newspaper is subject to change right up to airtime or the print deadline.  

Media do not “owe” you or your organization anything. Successful media strategies are the result of hard work and careful planning. 

However, putting all the 'maybes' aside, a good story will generate media coverage. In this post, I want to discuss how to treat them when they come. 

Attitude of Gratitude

News stories can also be affected by how you treat the media who cover your story. Bob Hartley, Stanley Cup winning coach of the NHL Colorado Avalanche and Coach of the Year Award winner while with the Calgary Flames, explains his attitude towards the media this way.

NHL Stanley Cup winning coach Bob Hartley
He recognizes that hockey fans are the reason professional athletes get to do what they do. They pay for tickets, buy branded hats and jersies, and watch or listen to media coverage of games which drives up the ratings.

Bob views the media as a conduit to the fans. That is why he is always available even after a tough loss or being unexpectedly fired.

For him, no media is too big or too small. No journalist is too young or inexperienced. In his mind, each deserves equal time.

He respects each reporter provides a way to speak directly to a segment of the people who make the life of professional hockey players and coaches possible. The fans!

Isn’t that refreshing for a professional sports personality? No tantrums. No need to bleep offensive language. No surly one-word answers. No interviews cut short because he didn't like the questions! 

For Bob, the media is a way to build relationships with ordinary fans. His attitude is part of his personal brand. 

Bob’s Lessons for NFPs

The first lesson from Bob is to treat the media as your collaborative partner. You need them to help get the message out, and they need you to provide a quality story.

Digging deeper, the media is not your enemy. Understanding what their needs are, and then meeting them will help land the story. It’s a basic customer service philosophy.

The media knows my company, Unimark Creative, for three brand principles. I carry them over to Rotary media events. We deliver three things;

1.    Stories based on truth
2.    Stories offering value and interest to their audiences
3.    Fair, equal treatment of all media

Some Media Relations professionals don’t rigorously adhere to number 3. What that means is that we provide each journalist with the same story and give each the same equal opportunity to each one. We don’t favor any single media.
  • Mainstream TV
  • Youtube channels
  • Cable TV
  • Commercial radio
  • Public radio
  • Student radio
  • Podcasts
  • Daily newspapers
  • Weekly newspapers
  • Online news media
  • Bloggers
  • Ethnic media

If a particular journalist asks for more information or a different spokes-person to interview, we respond accordingly. If a photographer or videographer asks for access to a remote area to capture a unique shot, we make it happen. 

Being professional also means we don’t share their idea for a different story angle with their competitors.

Media Friendly
We recently produced a not-for-profit media event at a major convention. The city hosting the event has 7 radio stations, 2 network affiliate television services, a daily newspaper and several weekly newspapers. 

We organized a news conference around a major funding announcement that was to be made following a keynote address. The project had universal appeal. 

When the journalists arrived, we welcomed each one and stated that we were media friendly. We asked them who they wanted to interview, gave them options, and had those to be interviewed on standby.

Our team made things happen as quickly as possible. Most wanted to speak to the keynote speaker. Others wanted a local angle and asked to speak a local leader who lived in the city. Click for story angle ideas 

During the keynote session, TV cameramen and newspaper photographers were told they had carte blanche to go onto the stage to shoot close-ups of speakers in action. TV cameramen were told they could go into the crowd to shoot “B” roll.      

Who, me?

I noticed some of the media acted surprised and somewhat cool towards us. My first thought was that they resented us because we came from the big city with our big city ways.

I discovered it wasn’t that at all! After the event was finished, a reporter thanked me for all we had done to help them. Another reporter came over and joined the conversation.

They explained they had never heard a PR person use the words “media friendly” before. That had made them suspicious.

The outcome was a story that received wide distribution on TV, radio, newspaper, magazines and social media. The daily newspaper gave us front page coverage for the two days of the conference.

By going out of our way to service the media, we received exceptional coverage. The story gathered legs and traveled to other media around the world.

Two weeks after the conference the newspaper also ran a two page spread on their social/community events page. Our photographer shot engaging images that the photo editor loved. But, I’ll save that story for a future post about photography.

Part 2 – Service Basics

My next post will provide a nuts and bolts overview of the needs of media and how you can be prepared to meet them on the day of your event.

Leading Questions; What do You Think?

What experiences have you had generating media coverage for your service club or not-for-profit 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. 

Contact Robyn

Email: robyn@robyntbraley.com   Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter: @rtbraley_rotary 

Relevant Posts in this Series - Read in Reverse Order - More to Come

Media is All About Stories and Rotary Has Them

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