How to Work with the Media
So you want to spread your message about bicycling.
The local news is a good place to start. But, how?
We learned at the 2014 National Bike Summit first-ever media training that, with a few tips and explanations, it’s really not all that hard. The training, which we partnered on with Streetsblog and Streetsfilm, brought together an expert panel of reporters and editors from print, radio and TV outlets.
Tanya Snyder, editor of Streetsblog USA, moderated the packed panel discussion, and also put together a helpful tip sheet for those in bike advocacy who need a primer on building relationships with your local reporters. One of the simplest tools you have: Just be nice.
The reporters on hand — Nadia Pflaum, investigative producer at WUSA9; Kate Ryan, WTOP News reporter; and Aaron Wiener, staff writer at Washington City Paper — had a couple do’s and don’ts for those in attendance, as well. A few tips:
- Do NOT make reporters open your press releases as email attachments (they won’t open them!); do NOT call editors more than once.
- News, very simply, is boils down to two things: “I want that to happen to me” and “Oh god, what if that happened to me?”
- When you pitch to media, think of this Portlandia remix: Put a face on it. People make stories.
- In terms of social media, Twitter is great for creating buzz within a community — and reporters will take note — but it can be scattershot for story pitches.
- While every story needs a human face, numbers and metrics can help sustain reporter interest in the trend or campaign
- Take note: Quoting the opposing side of your view point is not a negation of your agenda — it’s how journalism works.
One of the final points from Wiener — Twitter is the leading source of information in the WCP newsroom — brings us to where we can take this conversation forward. Tomorrow, we’re talking about how to use Twitter to better your own media relations. We’ve partnered with the Alliance for Biking & Walking, and will be providing more tips and insights on how to maximize your 140-character potential. Tune in at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Register today!