This is the first in a series of blogs about what media training trainees think when they come to a session. We talk here about satisfying the needs and likes of editors and producers.
How do media function? Trainees haven’t given much thought, before our media training sessions, about how journalists function or what goals media pursue. They are a trifle surprised by the relatively simplicity of the news-gathering process and the needs and wants of those making news decisions.
Primarily, trainees are interested in how editors and producers choose ‘the news’ that’s fit to print (or broadcast). They are told print editors and broadcasts producers are looking, not for negatives, but for interesting material. They want content that will attract and inform the readers of their papers or magazines, the listeners of their radio programs and the viewers of their TV outlets. They want material particular to their own audience. For instance, a mining magazine will, of course, want to appeal to executives, workers, customers and suppliers in the mining industry. While this sounds fundamental, trainees haven’t given it much thought in the past.
Trainees also are interested in what specific information journalists want. When asked what specific information they have to offer to media, inevitably the trainees give general and often generic marketing messages like, “Our company provides best-of-class products and leading-edge service to small, medium and large members of our industry.” The trainees learn this kind of response doesn’t work to capture the attention of editors and producers.
Organizations should be taking into account what drives editors and producers to choose one bit of information over another. Our training tells spokespersons they must be specific, not general. Media need headlines not White Papers. It’s not sensation that is hunted by journalists, it is targeted information dished out, ideally for both the company and the media one important angle at a time customized to the organization’s customers or other preferred audiences of the time.
The most important thing to know about the media is that they want your organization’s story; good media training tells you how to provide it.