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If It Bleeds It Leads


Why the news media covers ... hooked to event What makes it news Affects a lot of people What makes it news Elements of drama/conflict What makes it news Has ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: If It Bleeds It Leads

If It Bleeds It Leads
  • Why the news media covers what it covers and how
    to convince them to cover your issues
  • Sharon Kayne
  • New Mexico Voices for Children
  • www.nmvoices.org
  • Debbie Birkhauser
  • New Mexico Alliance for School-Based Health Care
  • www.nmasbhc.org

Where do you get your news?
  • Daily newspaper
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Internet
  • Weekly or monthly news magazine
  • Friends and colleagues

Understanding the media
  • Newsrooms are chaotic places
  • Coverage is often driven by deadline pressures
  • News outlets have a hole to fill

Think of the newsroom as triage
Understanding the media
  • Reporters strive for accuracy and balance
  • Reporters are not experts in every field
  • Reporters are also driven by deadline pressures

Think of the reporter as a funnel
Understanding news
  • Most news stories are based on events, not issues
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents
  • Crime
  • Political activity

Understanding news
  • Issues stories are almost always hooked to an
  • Natural disasters
  • Rescue response/preparedness
  • Accidents
  • Safety/training
  • Crime
  • Prevention/prosecution
  • Political activity
  • Social implications/motivations

Understanding news
  • Who covers what and why
  • Dailies like to cover events
  • Weeklies and monthlies like to cover issues

What makes it news
  • New event, update of event, hooked to event

What makes it news
  • Affects a lot of people

What makes it news
  • Elements of drama/conflict

What makes it news
  • Has an emotional appeal (tragic, bittersweet)

What makes it news
  • Is weird or unexpected

Tools of the trade
  • Story pitch
  • Media advisory
  • Press release
  • Statement
  • Press conference/press kit
  • Letters to the editor
  • Op eds/guest columns/blog posts

Pitching a story
  • Tie to an event whenever possible
  • Local angle of national story
  • Provide interviewee
  • Provide background information

Pitch stories to
  • Beat reporters
  • Section editors/ producers
  • Columnists
  • Bloggers
  • Niche publications and sections

Media advisories
  • Use to announce an event (like press conference)
  • Never more than one page
  • Make sure you address the 5 Ws and 1 H
  • Who, what, when, where, why and how

Press releases
  • Use to announce new information or to follow a
    press conference/event
  • Keep to one page if possible
  • Spellcheck!
  • Embargo only when necessary

  • Use to announce position on issue/ comment on
  • Looks just like a press release
  • Keep it short

How to submit
  • Email is preferable fax as backup
  • Paste text into body of email and attach
  • Email to yourself first to check
  • Tabs
  • Smart quotes
  • Text boxes
  • Logo

When to submit
  • Send media advisories 3-4 days in advance of
  • Send press releases early in the week (when
  • Follow up with phone calls

Writing a press release
  • Put new info in headline and lead
  • Write in an active voice
  • Use quotes for color
  • Include online links to the report (or background
  • Double check spelling of names, etc.
  • Spellcheck!

Writing the headline
  • Headline needs to
  • Tell reporter what story is about
  • Compel reporter to cover it
  • Short, declarative statement
  • Try to keep it to one line
  • Put less important info on second (smaller) line

Writing a letter to the editor
  • Check the paper for their guidelines
  • Keep it short (300 words max)
  • Relate it to something that appeared in the paper
  • Double check spelling of names, etc.
  • Resist the temptation to be nasty

Writing an op ed, etc.
  • Try to stay between 500-700 words
  • Give it a headline
  • Relate it to something that paper covered
  • Include your name, title, organization
  • Double check spelling of names, etc.
  • Blog include links to pertinent info

Writing tips
  • Lay out your argument logically (make an outline)
  • Never lead with a question
  • Avoid repetition
  • Attribute your sources
  • Offer a solution
  • Suggest a course of action the reader can take

Press conferences
  • Hold only for big announcement or reaction to
  • Have a visual other than talking heads
  • Have a built-in audience
  • Have a sign-in sheet for media
  • Put together press kits

Press conferences
  • Limit the number of speakers (3-5)
  • Limit their speaking time (2-3 mins.)
  • Give them talking points
  • Best days Tuesdays, Wednesday Thursday
  • Best times 10-11am, 1-2pm
  • Consider postponing if big story breaks

Press kits
  • Plain, inexpensive folder is fine
  • Include
  • press release
  • fact sheets
  • background information
  • copy of the report youre releasing
  • a list of press conference speakers with their
  • organizations brochure
  • business card

Giving interviews Before
  • Come up with possible questions
  • Come up with possible answers
  • Know your talking points
  • Have someone do a mock interview

Giving interviews During
  • Take a deep breath and relax
  • Take your time the interview will be edited
    (unless its live)
  • Dont be afraid to ask for clarification if you
    dont understand a question
  • Dont be afraid to say you dont know an answer
  • Begin your answer by repeating the question

Crisis communications
  • Dont try to brush off issue or incident
  • Explain what precautions were in place
  • Explain that action is being taken
  • Never say no comment

Final thoughts Always
  • Ask if reporter/editor is on deadline
  • Give accurate information
  • Double check your facts
  • Attribute your sources
  • Double check spelling of names
  • Correct your errors ASAP
  • Return their calls
  • Be available and helpful

Final thoughts Never
  • Lie to a reporter
  • Ask to approve the story beforehand
  • Give information off the record
  • Assume an error or lousy headline is the
    reporters fault

Final thoughts Youll want to
  • Create a press list
  • Email groups
  • Create templates
  • Create communications protocol
  • Add newsroom to your website
  • Track your coverage
  • Sign up for Google Alerts
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