|Do's and Don'ts when dealing with print journalists|
Nothing is an absolute when media are involved. Nothing is a given when elections come along. However, candidates can really help themselves out by following a few mostly common-sense steps in their dealings with print (and other) media.
- DO realize that media organizations are made up of individuals. It's important to learn who needs your press releases and who needs your photos; they may be different people.
- DON'T assume the Editorial Page department is connected to the News Department. At most papers, they have nothing to do with each other, so feeding your news-related releases to the Editorial Page doesn't do you much good.
- DO make sure everything you send the paper is typed. Unfair as it might be, handwritten releases don't get top priority. The people who have to type them in dislike having to decipher.
- DO have nice color and black-and-white photos made. This becomes more important with less visible offices, which are less likely to involve debates or public appearances. A decent-quality publicity photo lends credibility. Make sure the appropriate person at the paper has at least one copy in color and in black and white. More than one copy never hurts.
- DO get a Web page, and put on it the important things you want people to see: Your views on major issues, background details, a photo. Links to other sites sponsored by your party. Make sure the Web address is prominent on any materials you hand out.
- DO be available for interviews.
- DON'T delay returning phone calls from reporters. Stories usually are turned around in two days or less, so if a reporter can't reach you fairly quickly, your view might not get in.
- DON'T badger journalists about coverage. They don't mind taking a call asking legitimate questions, or announcing real news, but anything less gets bothersome. (Editors and reporters take many calls a day, and they they still have to get a lot of writing done, too.)
- DO be patient during an interview when reporters mix up who you are, which office you are seeking, or some other detail. That same reporter probably is covering five or six small and large races, each with two or three candidates, many of whom he or she likely spoke with just hours or minutes before speaking with you. (However, make sure the reporter has the detail correct before the interview is over.)
- DON'T try to trick, dazzle, impress or belittle the reporter. Be yourself, talking to someone just trying to do a job well. Speak clearly and directly. Reporters aren't trying to unearth some terrible secret when they interview you about the race; they just want good, concise answers that they can relay in print. That said, if a reporter does ask hard questions, remember that's part of his job, too.
- DON'T make assumptions about the political persuasions of the News Department(s). Editorial Page departments are supposed to have a political bias. But News Departments aim to remain as neutral as possible. Individual reporters can and do belong to political parties, but they aren't supposed to favor one view over another.
[Written by Mark Thompson-Kolar, the Assistant Managing Editor, News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN]
|Created at 11/3/2006 9:00 PM by padmin|
|Last modified at 11/4/2006 7:41 PM by padmin|