Press briefings are the mainstay of media outreach but most people treat the build up and the event in ways that undermine the chances of success. With over 25 years experience I share 6 key considerations in the 3 stages of build up, during and post briefing. I include details of a recent virtual event my Agency hosted in SE Asia with media from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to remind us of the importance of thinking about the language used by the spokespeople; and I don't just mean which the mother tongue.
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Hello, and welcome to this episode of the unnoticed show. My name is Jim James, and I'd like to share with you some ideas about talking to the media today because many of us find that public relations involves media relations or media relations involves a media briefing. So let's just look at six tips. About when you're preparing a media briefing. Recently, I've just prepared a media briefing in Southeast Asia for a client. We held a media briefing online. With media from across Southeast Asia and clients also in Asia, but also Europe. I've also been helping a couple of clients with their press releases that are going to go out this week to announce a new company they're formed. So there are a couple of instances where I've been really drilling down on my 25 years of experience of really organizing and running press briefings and reaching out to the media. So I thought what could be better than to share that? On this show. Now, first of all, when we're looking at a media briefing, I would like to share. The first. Key point to remember is that the media are really not your audience. They're not your audience because ultimately they're not the people by and large that you are hoping are going to take action by listening to what you're doing. When I say that, of course, you're hoping they're going to take action by writing or issuing a podcast, or maybe making a film about what you're saying. But the're are conduit. they are channel. To the people that you really want to reach. First of all, let's just remember when you're reaching out to the media. The role they're playing is to help you. To communicate with your audiences. And in order to do that, we need to treat them really like team members. Not like an external vendor or someone that needs to be either engaged or in a, in a funny way sold to first of all, let's just get the mindset, the media, the journalists. We need to work with them. We also have to remember that the media have got their own objectives to fulfill. Some people going to a media briefing, expecting the media to be as excited and interested about their product or services as the spokesperson is. Now the journalist has got to manage the expectations of their editor. And their publisher and their readers. Sometimes they own their own publication. But by and large, they've got to have a revenue model, which means that read the selling. Advertising. So there's got to be compelling content. Or they are running subscriptions. In which case they're talking to an audience that they know very well. And that they have to deliver to on a consistent basis. So bear in mind that the media that we talked to or that you're going to be talking to when you're looking to engage them. Have got quite a lot going on in their agenda before they even get to hearing about your agenda. Now. First of all, then I'm going to look at the pitch. Now the pitch is what we write or now increasingly I'm using videos to send a pitch. Then what we write to the media to tell them what we'd like to share why it's important to them to attend. The key thing to remember about a pitch is that we have to look at it. From the perspective of the journalist, not from our own perspective. Too many pictures that I see. The client says. I want to talk about this. I want to talk about that. This is why I'm doing this. And as we would in any situation, we'd find that a little bit dull. What we want to do. First of all is look at. The context. Into which your news is going to be dropping. Because that's what the journalists are going to be using to decide whether or not it's going to feed the need of their readers. First of all, let's look at your invitation and the invitation. I like to say only really has two short paragraphs. The first paragraph is setting the scene. This is what's happening in this industry or this geography. Or in this particular. I scenario. And this in the second paragraph is what we as a company or an organization, or as an individual. Are going to be talking about that addresses, that particular issue. So the invitation needs to be. Really very simple to the point because the media have got literally hundreds of invitations per week going into their mailboxes. Now the next thing we need to look at. Is the platform. Now. I just recently did a media briefing in Singapore, actually. And we use go to meeting.com as the platform. And I had to say that it's not a good platform for a media briefing. Why not? Because it doesn't allow the individuals in the room to see the guest it's a webinar platform. And what we really want to do in a media briefing is we want to engage the journalist to come along with us on a journey. As we talk with them about the issues that we understand there are facing. The audience. In their daily lives or their weekly or their monthly business lives. And about our solutions to those problems. So the platform that we choose. Needs to enable us to engage with those media, go to meeting.com. As a webinar, didn't do that. Zoom does that. There are also some like on 24 and the swap card. But those two tend to be geared towards the larger events. Zoom is good because it enables us to see one another. It also enables us to share the content. In real time. But what I also like about it is that it allows breakout rooms. In a conventional media briefing, we would rent a room. A conference room at a hotel, for example, and we would have. Eight to 10 media, maybe more I've done bigger media briefings. For example, in China would have maybe 40 media. And a group of spokespeople at the front. But after that, we'd always have breakout sessions for two or three media. That have a similar audience to talk with the spokespeople. So the platform that we choose needs to facilitate these breakout rooms, where people can have smaller, more intimate conversations. So once you've decided on the pitch. And you decided on the platform. What we need to then look at is the materials. And what I would say to you is what I say to all clients through. There are three key words to remember when you're preparing your materials. Simplify simplify, simplify. Every client that I've ever worked with over 25 years. Has acres of internal PowerPoint presentations. And by and large, they've been built by sales teams. Sometimes by technical teams, but on the whole, the main. Business of a sales team is to present. So they tend to have the most volume of content. And often it's the salespeople who are considered to be the most articulate who are put in front of the media, although as I've shown in another survey, the Edelman trust index. People actually don't trust CEOs. Or salesman as much as they trust subject matter experts. So if you have a CTO or an engineer, They're more likely to be trusted by the audience and even by the media. than your normal front of house people. Presentations for the media need to be simple. They need to be direct. And they need to help the media to write a story. Because as I mentioned before, the media. Are not going to be the customer. They're going to be helping to facilitate the sharing of the story. If your material is complex. It reduces their chance to share it. In my speak BR course, I talk about the two dimensions of shareable content. That is where content is new and when it is simple. The newer it is and the simpler it is the easier it is to go viral. The more you walk away from that. The older, the material, the more complex the material, the less willing the journalist is to take a risk. To learn it and maybe get it wrong. But also bear in mind. I mentioned they may have a hundred stories that are coming at them this week. They may be filing five or 10. If your story takes a long time for them to understand and to work on. It's probably not going to get much work done by them because in this increasingly drag and drop. School of journalism around the world. What we need to do is to create assets. I call them assets, infographics, video quotes, statistics. Photographs. These assets need to be. If you like a jigsaw puzzle that the media can compile very simply. So preparing the materials. Is always one of the roles that an external agency will fulfill. Not least because internally the marketing and the PR managers are reluctant to tell the salespeople or the CTO. Or the CEO. That their material is too complicated. No one wants to look that silly. At my time of life. I don't mind if people think I'm silly. What I do know is that if it's too complicated, the media will think that I'm silly for bringing them to a conference that they don't understand. So simplify, simplify, simplify. More pictures and less text. We all know the old story about apple and how their presentations. Led by Steve jobs were all about photographs. And more about conversations. Away from the slide. The reason this is important is because when we're working with the media, In these media conferences, the goal is to get some of the story across, but the bigger picture is to build a relationship. To get the journalist to know and and trust the spokesperson. So that they come back for more. The journalists may get a good story at the press briefing itself. Especially if there's an announcement of some kind. But what we're really trying to do is start the relationship with the journalist. That's going to continue for a long time. So I asked clients not to worry about educating the media on every facet of their business and product. And focus more on looking the journalist in the eye. And getting them to know and and trust them so that we can come back to the media. And work with more detail at a later date. Now let's just talk about preparing the speakers. And if this is you, the speaker. I want you to just bear in mind. That there are some ground rules for you here. One is to remember that the media will not have the same level of understanding as you do, or your speaker does on. The trends and the topics and the technology. That you and your company or organization are offering. They can't, they may be covering in one week five, six, seven, maybe eight stories. Now in the old days, they used to be journalists who would be dedicated to one beat. And they would be as knowledgeable. As the company spokesperson. That's still the case a little bit. And maybe in some of the analysts meetings that still the KC, we talked to people like Forrester or Gartner. Or some of the finance analysts. But by and large, the media are covering. A lot of different topics. And they really are what I might consider to be an economist expert. If you read the economist. You get either in the brief section 80 to 200 words, or maybe in the long form supplements, maybe a thousand words and you can become an expert. To a certain level or a certain depth. Within the short pages of that magazine. But it's not a comprehensive understanding. Now in the case of briefing. In our job last week in Asia. We had media from Indonesia. From Thailand and Malaysia and also from Singapore. And the spokespeople were based in Sweden. And in Singapore, but we're Western. So we have to bear in mind. If we are doing a press briefing, especially an international one. That English is not everybody's first language. It's very easy to assume that because we will speak English. That it's the same as them. Learning and it being their mother tongue. I had one client the other day who said that they sat in a meeting. In in a zoom and everyone else's from Thailand. And once she, who is a a European I had said hello, and then said hello to her. They. They went off into Thai speaking and she said, I felt so lonely. And also so disrespected. But also so lost. So I always remind clients. That. We have to bear in mind that not everybody speaks the same language. And if you, they are a media group from multiple countries. Then we really must make sure that we pace our delivery. So that everyone can keep up, but also, so that we use language that is accessible. So another rule about being a spokesperson is to not use jargon for your industry. There are many terms in all of our industries that are shorthand. For the common parlance and. They are. Words and sentences and phrases that are shortcuts and make people feel in the know. But if you've got a journalist, who's not in the know you're simply leaving them out. Much like my client. She felt left out now. If this is a journalist feeling left out, guess what they'll do. They will just cease to pay attention. If they ceased to pay attention. You cease to have the possibility of coverage. So a media briefing is not a master class for a peer group. But more like a. An undergraduate degree level introduction to your company, your service. The media that are chosen. Are bright young people and sometimes more mature. But on the whole, especially these days, journalists are quite young and they move beats quite frequently, especially in Asia. So we have to bear in mind that that media briefing for them, maybe an introduction to your technology, your company, to an industry. It doesn't mean we have to talk down to them or treat them as stupid. It does mean though that we need to make it accessible. So our role in these media briefings. Is to give some guidance. And to give some encouragement and also ultimately to create a sense that this is of interest. Because if the young person or the old person, the journalist sits there and they don't feel engaged and somehow enthused about the topic themselves, when they go back to the editor. Into the publisher. There'll be unable to convince them that it's a story worth filing. So it's really, really important to remember who the audience is. And as we deliver our content. Just to remember that we need to recap the content. What I do is I work with clients on a message home with one key message, three supporting messages. And underneath the supporting messages, some proof points. Three key messages. Two proof points per message. Is enough. To get across to the media. That will be enough to give those media a story that they can take away. And if they're interested, they can always come back and ask for more. And now let's also just talk about. What would happen if you have a media briefing? After the presentations. We always want to prepare some questions in advance. Some media will ask their questions. But if not, then it's good for the agency or the host or the facilitator to prepare some because we can't cover everything. And there'll be some areas of the business. That we might want to include in afterthoughts. Another aspect is to try and bring humor. Into those media briefings when I'm facilitating. I always try and remember that most people are a bit anxious because it's not a normal situation. A few people have to present. A few people have to listen. A few of you have asked questions in a, in a way that many people feel as though. There. Trying to interrogate them, trying to catch them out. This is not a normal situation, really, for anybody. So a little bit of humor to lighten the tension in the room or in the virtual room is also a really good plan. Now post event. What we do at east west PR is we send them a transcript. Of the event. Because in social media with virtual conferences, now we can take a video. We can get a transcript. We've then sent the transcripts to our local partners, Indonesia and Thailand. Malaysia. And translated those along with the graphics that we shared. So that the media will have the assets in their own language. So it's easier for them to catch up because they may or may not have followed the whole story. During that one hour presentation when there were three speakers and one facilitator. 27 other guests and a new technology. There's a lot of things going on there. For everybody. So it's the post event followup. That enables a media briefing then to be really, really successful. We send a video. We send a transcript. We send him for graphics. We also send some key talking points. So the agency. Can help, but if you don't have an agency, you can still do those things. You can still send those materials to the journalists. Have finally asked them the question. Is there anything else I can provide for you? To expect the media. To get the whole story. First time. Isn't really a big ask. So I always ask if there's anything else. And I also asked them, what's their one takeaway. I like to ask. What's the one story. That you think you heard from today's breast briefing? If they look at me blank, then I know that I've had a bad press brief. Again, I failed. Hopefully normally, in fact, almost always they come over with one great story and then it's my job to help make sure. That they can get that into the media. And I'll also ask them when they think they might follow that story. And when it might appear. Because I want to close the deal. I've done all that work to get them there. They've done all that work to get there. And I want to make sure that ultimately it reaches the air and that their readers get to hear everything that we've wanted their readers to hear. In a way that is intelligent articulate and most of all compelling. Thanks for listening to this episode around creating a virtual media briefing. The rules are the same. If it's not virtual. But more and more of us are doing virtual or hybrid events. So this list of activities pre during and post. Will stand you in good stead. And if you need any help from me, please do just reach out [email protected] thank you so much for listening and i wish you all the best in getting noticed.