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Dealing with the Press - Introduction to Journalism

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Ifan Jones

on 3 December 2015

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Transcript of Dealing with the Press - Introduction to Journalism

Intro to Practical Journalism

Write two press releases, to be sent to local news outlets.

Press release 1: Your immediate response to the story on the BBC Website.

Press release 2: Scheduled for a month later. Think about ways that you could go about restoring the company’s good name.

Note the guidance on writing press releases in this lecture.

30% of your final marks

Two press releases
- approx. 300 words each

Summary of actions - 400 words

Total: 1000 words

Deadline: Midnight, 4 May

What steps you would take in order to influence the press so that the company’s good name survives this PR disaster?

- What would you do?

- Why would you do it?

- What do you expect the result would be?

Who would you contact, and what would you tell them?

Refer to one or two other PR disasters that back up your case
(see readings, next week's lecture).

Information in the body of the e-mail

Tidy and readable - easy to read fonts

Often what is published is a matter of chance

Background notes


Other Ingredients

Weekly papers - (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Daily papers - Evening

Radio/TV - Main bulletins

Internet - First thing / Lunch time


What is going to make people
read your story?
It's the audience that's important.
Who's who in the company?

Research or statistics to support your claims

A plethora of pictures

Pre-written press releases for negative eventualities
Be Prepared

More attention

No one else gets the news

Consolidates your contact

The 'Exclusive'

“... anyone coming into public relations should make their first task that of visiting a newspaper, talking to the journalists and finding out how they work and what they require from the public relations person.

“I’m continually annoyed at the lack of understanding of a journalist’s job by some public relations people.”

- Jim Dunn,
Successful Public Relations

What if there's
nothing new to say?
Tenuously attach yourself
to another news story

It's better to be quoted second,
than not at all
Also useful for burying bad news!
Quick and easy to distribute

Convenient for the PR officer and the journalist

Stop the journalist digging

Easy to keep the information

Control the message word-for-word

Easy to control the timing
Hundreds arrive every day

Everyone gets them


Tendency to send lots in the hope one sticks

Careful businesses equal boring press releases

If it's a big story, the journalist will dig anyway
Make sure everyone who needs to see the press release has seen it before it is sent
Hindering the journalist isn't the answer!
The importance of the press to PR
"Notwithstanding what some in the PR industry like to say, media relations remains the core skill of public relations... It is the PR person who is left to pitch the story to the sceptical journalist, or to take that difficult call when the media have uncovered a damaging story. It is a role that the people who run big organisations value. It is no accident that so many of PR's top figures - and highest earners - are known for their media handling abilities."

- Trevor Morris & Simon Goldsworthy,
PR Today
More important than ever?

Fewer, busier, journalists

Free advertising on-line

Remaining high-quality
press want good PR
Who is the audience?
What will be of interest to them?

How much do they know?

Local - popular - specialised.

Who do they trust?
Pick a Pic
Talking to the Press
Turn the negative positive
“This issue will only make Lululemon that much stronger because they will pay even more attention to detail. This company strives on separating themselves from not just being good, but being great.”
The PR officer
wants good news
The journalist
wants bad news
The Information Trade
(How much news is there?)
Read/watch/listen to everything

- What are they saying about you?

- What are they saying about your competitors?

- What issues do different media give space to?

- What journalists/editors were responsible
for these stories?
Reward and Punish
Exclusive news Access to bosses / celebs


Refuse information
(more effective with big businesses)

Complain to editors / managers

Threaten the law

Give another journalist the bad news

Undermine a story by briefing another journalist

You need a balance
- or journalists will hate you!

Journalistic Style

Avoid jargon!

The News Pyramid

As little adaptation as possible -
leads to loss of message / questions

Short - 300/800 words

How to talk to a journalist
"I believe this story would be of interest to your kind of paper / magazine, etc..."

"I read your very interesting article this morning,
and thought this could develop the story..."


"Didn't you get the press release?
Why isn't it up on the website?"
Explain the story straight away - no faffing

Keep it short and simple

Send an e-mail afterwards as a reminder
News loses its shine

Gives them a chance to dig

Based on trust

Social media
Embargo Dangers
Be polite

Emphasize 3/4 important points

Let the journalist explain their understanding
- correct misapprehensions

Admit the negative but accentuate the positive

Repeat - memory as important as notes

Only the PR officer should talk to the press!
- train bosses

Be available at all hours
TV/Radio Interview
Strike preemptively -

Get your narrative into
the press.
What kind of pictures do they use?

Big pics - slow message

A good choice of pictures (vertical and horizontal)

No branding

Explain the pictures

More choice on the website

Video / audio (big stories)

How do you make sure everyone can publish together?
Can't help

Conflict for the sake of it

A chance to talk directly to the audience

Less credibility - refer to a 3rd party
PR: Dealing with the Press
Part I: Assignment #3
Part II: The Press and PR
Part III: The Press Release
Part IV: Talking to the Press
Press Releases
New Evidence

Unexpected Timely

About People Effects People

Effects people like your audience

Celebs Good quotes

Simplicity Sex

(Crime, Violence, Bad News, Conflict)
You've been hired by Bangor Food Ltd. to restore their company’s good name.

Story on BBC Website:
400 words
Approx. 300 words each
Full transcript