The other day I ran across my notes from a meeting of the San Diego Press Club I attended some time ago. One of the panelists, then-Program Director Cliff Albert of news/talk radio station KOGO, put forth the opinion that news must do three things–engage, entertain, and enlighten. Albert emphasized that news is about people, not events. His words serve as medicine for anyone who deals with the media.
One of the biggest hurdles in many a media training session is psychological. Some people simply don’t see the need to give the press what they need, when they need it, in a format they find useful. That’s one of the reasons why I make it a point to ask participants about their attitudes toward reporters in a pre-session questionnaire.
Any news source who has never experienced the pulse of a newsroom on a day-to-day basis faces a steep curve in learning how to feed the media, which argues that your chief communications officer (and certainly your communications training consultant) must absolutely have a reporting background.
Albert’s “engage, entertain, and enlighten” road map can guide you to positive relations with many a reporter. The bottom line is the reporter (and his boss) wants higher circulation or better ratings. And you can bet that reporter has his or her career path in mind. Better bylines lead to better promotions. If you make it easier for them to engage their readers, listeners, or viewers, your story stands a much better chance of gaining air time, online eyeballs, or column inches.
If you find a way to entertain readers by using powerful stories, meaningful numbers, and third party support, you have advanced your organization one more step. That is how you enlighten your intended audience with your news.