Engaging with the Media

At MRCF Digital Activistm course 26th of July, 2011

Facilitated by Nazek Ramadan Anne Stoltenberg Migrant Voice

Engaging with the media
This session aims to strengthen participants understanding of how to engage effectively with the media as individuals or as organisations, and specifically how to pitch your story to the media and how to issue a press release.

Migrant Voice
Migrant Voice is a migrant led organisation set up to strengthen the voice of migrants in the media and public domain by increasing their skills and confidence in developing and conveying key messages about their realities to promote a more balanced media coverage and public debate on migration

Why engage with the media?

Because if you don’t speak up, others will speak for you (this could be the Sun Newspaper, the Mail, etc.)

Just like elections, if you do not vote, others will decide for you

Why engage with the media?
Having a voice participation Democracy citizenship Integration being part of the community

Why engage with the media?

Because people will listen

Why engage with the media?
Why you?
Because it is your issue, if you do not care, why should others do?  Because if it is coming directly from you, it is genuine, real, effective

Understanding the media
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Editorial meetings and decisions
Editorial line Change in the culture of journalism Last minute changes in priorities

Understanding the media
Are journalists alien species?  Journalists are not necessarily horrible people, who hate migrants  Some differences between UK press and media in some other countries  Journalists will listen to you; they need your stories and spokespeople  There is a real person behind the microphone/pen.

What is the media/journalist after?

Sensational stories (shocking, funny, scandals, etc.) Human stories Paper-selling headlines Exclusive news/stories

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The journalist:
Wants news  Is under pressure  Has deadlines  Wants an angle that will appeal to his/her readership  Has other sources of information

Don’t tell him/her how to write the story

Contacting the media
Make one person in your organisation responsible for dealing with the media  Draw up a database of all media contacts  Be pro-active about forming relationships with key journalists  Remember to focus on local media  It is fine to approach more than one media contact for the same story, but you should let them know.

Contacting the media
Tips from a journalist

Re-active work

Most newspapers, radio and TV news programmes have a forward planning desk.

Phone up as many forward planning teams as you can, introduce yourself and provide contact details such as a mobile so that if a story about migrants breaks they can call you or your organisation for a comment.

Re-active work

If a journalist contacts you to react to a breaking story or you contact a news desk to offer a reaction, make sure that you have a clear, concise and simple comment ready. A journalist working flat out on a breaking story won't have time to listen to a long, rambling speech.

Pro-active work
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Contact forward planning desks and suggest story ideas Suggest interesting stories such as an unusual human interest story, a scandal where people in authority have treated migrants badly Offer an insight into a different world. Many journalists lead narrow, privileged lives and may have little or no knowledge of /or access to the life of migrants.You can offer this access.

Pro-active work

Pitch any story which counters the stereotypes about migrants, which are constantly recycled by some sections of the media Produce reports/pieces of research with new findings about migrants which can be presented to the media. It's important to offer case studies with such a report, preferably migrants who are prepared to be identified.

Pro-active work

Remember that a comment from a migrant is worth much more to a journalist than a comment from an organisation that works on behalf of migrants.

Building a relationship
Pro-actively contact the media and:  introduce yourself and the organisation,  ask about the kinds of stories they are interested in  find out what they are working on  offer to send material.  Invite the journalist to come to you Such a relationship is not a one-off, but should be sustained.

Pitching your story

It is the idea that counts

What makes a good idea?  Is it new?  Is it important?  Is it interesting to YOU?  Is it news, feature or comments?

How to pitch your story?

Once you know the answers to these questions, select the most appropriate editor/news-desk and email them:

How to pitch your story?
Mark the subject of your email with a simple description of the idea  Tell the editor who you are  Explain your ideas as quickly and simply as possible  Describe what sort of article it might become, and who the writer should speak to  Include your contact details, with a phone number that you can be reached on quickly  Offer photo/filming opportunities

Small group Exercise
Think of a story that you would like to see published and prepare your pitch, addressing the points raised in this session, including:  What is the story about?  Why is of interest to the particular media chosen?  Is it news, feature, comment?  What are you offering (spokespeople, research, contact details) Remember: keep it simple, clear, concise

Writing a press release
Top tips:  Determine whether you really need a press release – if you do, then:
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Make sure your logo in on the press release, Include today’s date and date you want your press-release issued Make sure you have a brief attentiongrabbing title

Writing a press release
The first sentence should be a summary of the story  Get your key points across to catch journalist’s attention  Answer who, what, when, why and how  Write as if you are speaking to the readers/viewers/listeners  Check your target media for appropriate style

Writing a press release
Illustrate your story with quotes  Highlight what is: NEW, UNIQUE, SPECIAL, TIMELY about your story  Finish with practical details and notes to editors  Add a photo or illustration to catch the journalist’s eye

Group exercise
You are planning to: Launch a campaign/Have an event/launch a report….
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Write a press release for the launch of your new campaign/event/etc., addressing a particular media and using the tips from the session.

Where else can I go?
Migrant Voice  Institute for Race Relations  Migrants Rights Network  Refugee Council  Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum  Asylum Aid  Amnesty International  The Media Trust

Where can I get inspiration?
Migrant Voice  MRCF  RAMFEL  FOMACS (Ireland)  Menedek (Hungary)  Mugak (Spain)  The Opportunity Agenda (USA)  Welcoming America (USA)

Thank You info@migrantvoice.org www.migrantvoice.org