If you are not receiving the News Coverage you feel you deserve, shoot your own sound bites and video and then distribute it yourself to your news outlets.
It’s not as complicated as it may seem. If you have a Smartphone you have the solution: Shoot a video of yourself or someone else in your organization explaining your message. Use effective Sound Bites of between 9 and 13 seconds in length. Record at least 3 separate soundbites so that the media outlets feel they have the choice of deciding which one they will use. Also shoot cover video because its all about pictures and video. Use your smartphone to shoot video that a television station would find helpful in visualizing your story.
Post your videos on both your Facebook Page and your YouTube Channel. Just the fact that YOU are posting your own news on your own platforms for anyone and everyone to see will encourage mainstream media outlets to run it themselves so they won’t appear to be out-of-the-loop when it comes to covering the community.
Remember that thousands of Social Media programmers are constantly looking for content to share with their own followers; contact those programmers to let them know they are welcome to re-post your content. This will have a multiplier affect on the number of people you reach.
When it comes to news coverage, news outlets will run whatever Concerns, Interests or Affects our audiences. If you have a story, event or cause that you feel is important to your community, there’s a good change your local mainstream media outlets will broadcast or print it. Reporters, Producers and Editors for Mainstream News outlets routinely follow agencies, organizations and people they consider “news makers.” You want to make sure that they get used to following YOU!
If you’d like to know more about shooting and editing your own sound bites and video, follow us for that as well.
What do you do when a reporter asks you a stupid question? If you are ever holding an interview or news conference, and someone asks you a question that you consider “stupid,” do not call-out the reporter. Doing so will make you appear too defensive and even hostile. You will also make yourself an enemy, because no reporter wants to be chastised during a news briefing. Often a stupid question results in what some may consider a stupid answer.
If the question calls for conclusions based on information you do not yet have or events that have not yet occurred, then the question is “hypothetical.” In that case a proper response would be; “I’m only going to deal with the facts, I don’t want to get involved in a hypothetical situation.”
If a reporter asks a question that indicates that the reporter doesn’t fully understand the issue, do not chastise the reporter. Instead offer to provide background information, material or reference sources that will help the reporter have a better understanding of the issue. Offering background information shows the reporter that you are sincerely trying to provide accurate information.
You don’t even have to make it obvious to reporters that they don’t know the subject well enough to ask thoughtful questions. Instead, make a general statement to all of the reporters such as, “I realize this is a complex issue to many of us. If it makes it easier for you, I have a lot of background information that I will be happy to make available to any or all of you.”
Just remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.
Better yet, when you are asked a question that you consider stupid, just answer the question the way you wish that it were asked.
Russell Ruffin is author of “Media Survival,” and a veteran TV News reporter who conducts News Media Relations Training for public and private agencies and businesses.
Law Enforcement Officers and Agencies across the nation are almost always unfairly vilified in some of the Main Stream Media Outlets during coverage of officer involved shootings. The False Narrative of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” during the 2014 Ferguson, MO protests gave many the impression that an officer had shot and killed (without provocation) an unarmed man. Although the media later corrected the narrative and acknowledged that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” never happened, many in the public and media still adhere to that false narrative. That is precisely why Law Enforcement needs to effectively embrace Social Media to ensure that the facts are accurately reported. When possible, Law Enforcement should uses Social Media to let the public know why and how they react to being pelted by rocks and bottles and other violence.
To increase the possibility of getting positive news coverage in your response to an emergency, USE YOUR SMARTPHONE – Shoot and Distribute your own video to Mainstream and Social Media. Thank You to our Law Enforcement Officers in response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, you performed heroically.
What do you do when you get a call from a reporter who needs to schedule an interview with you for a quick sound bite or quote on some subject or event? You may be able to squeeze the reporter into your busy schedule for a face-to-face sit-down interview, but you probably won’t have time to prepare a formal detailed press release.
Of course, not everyone who is interviewed by a reporter has to compose a press release, but handing the reporter some typed out facts that you have prepared will definitely provide them a better understanding of your answers or position.
I’ve had countless newsmakers proclaim, “the reporter interviewed me for more than an hour, and when the story ended up in the paper it was completely wrong.” Some tell of submitting to lengthy TV interviews only to have the least significant sound bites end up on the air. One of the common complaints about reporters is, “They always misconstrue everything I say.”
While it may seem that reporters are just “making up information,” the reality is that sometimes something just gets lost in the translation.
When newsmakers submit to interviews, they have to count on reporters to take accurate notes and have a sufficient understanding of what is being said. Often, when a reporter gets a story wrong, it isn’t because they are being unfair or dishonest, it’s because they were unaware of all the facts. But how can a reporter get a story wrong if you’ve answered every one of their questions?
Reporters only ask questions for which they feel they need answers or comments. Sometimes a reporter goes into an interview with a misunderstanding of one or more facts. They don’t bother to ask you to verify information that they assume is correct. You don’t know they have a misunderstanding of the facts, therefore you don’t know to correct their misinformation. Hence, there is no meeting of the minds. The reporter writes the story based on what he or she believes to be the facts, only to discover they didn’t have all the fact.
For television news, I once covered a Colorado avalanche in which my photographer managed to capture graphic footage of the giant snow slide coming down the mountain and then completely burying our news camera. One news outlet erroneously reported that my photographer had been buried alive while shooting the footage. In reality, my photographer and I had actually managed to scramble to safety before the avalanche reached us. How could a reporter have made such a mistake? He assumed that because the camera that captured the amazing footage was buried, the photographer holding the camera must have been buried with it. He didn’t realize we had left the camera mounted on a tripod before we made our escape. Some reporters just make false assumptions. Some reporters don’t ask the right questions.
To reduce the possibility of falling victim to false assumptions, you should, at the very least, prepare a brief “Fact Sheet,” for every single interview or news conference you submit to. This fact sheet should list the basic information regarding the event or news story, the who, what, when, where, why and how. Your list doesn’t even have to consist of complete sentences, just basic information, almost like reporter’s notes.
Reporters will appreciate that you have provided information without them having to quickly write down every single detail. You are actually helping the reporter take accurate notes. Your fact sheet will be something the reporter can refer to as he or she is preparing their news copy.
For reporters who may be unfamiliar with certain events or subjects, your fact sheet can become their road map. I would even suggest giving the fact sheet to the reporter before the interview, so that they will have a better understanding of your position before questioning you.
A simple fact sheet will ensure that both you and the reporter are on the same page.
If you really want to make a point in a conversation, interview, news conference or speech, think in terms of “Sound Bites.” Back in the 80’s an effective sound bite delivered at the right place and at the right time, helped bring down the Berlin Wall.
Watch Russell Ruffin at the White House for this tip. Take a minute to come up with an 8 to 15 second sound bite that will not just help you make your point, but will be something your audience will remember.
How do you answer those questions you don’t want to answer?Click below:
Those Middle of the Night
Phone Calls from Reporters
If you are like most Public Information Officers, you get calls at all hours from reporters and editors looking for that one piece of information that you and only you can provide. If your agency is structured like most, there are only a select few, who may speak to the media for your agency. While it’s a compliment to you that your agency has trusted you with that responsibility, it is often an overwhelming task. Continue reading Sorry to Wake You
Facebook LIVE for Cops is an effective way for Law Enforcement to push important and potentially life-saving information out to the media and the public at the same time.
Our video demonstration below will show you just how easy it is.