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24 Hours in Farming: Making the most of the media

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Newspapers, magazines, radio and television are always on the look out for great news and human interest stories, and approaching them can be a great way to gain publicity for your business or organisation.

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Sponsored Article

Newspapers, magazines, radio and television are always on the look out for great news and human interest stories, and approaching them can be a great way to gain publicity for your business or organisation.

 

From 5am on August 10 to 5am August 11, 24 Hours in Farming will be a great opportunity for everyone in farming to raise awareness of the work they do to produce food for British consumers.

 

If you are hosting an event or are supporting the day in another way, why not alert the local media for some extra publicity for your business and the wider event.

Dealing with journalists

There are worlds within journalism and each reporter is different. While some exploit contacts and massage facts to create a story vaguely resembling the truth, most are hard-working, honest people who want to do a good job in often challenging circumstances.

 

Dealing with the news media can feel pressured and stressful, but that does not have to be the case. By building relationships with trusted reporters, you can create mutually beneficial and respectful relationships which will help you get your message across to a new audience.

 

You can do this by providing useful information or helping them find it, and by sticking to agreed deadlines. As you build relationships with journalists you will learn what kind of stories they are interested in. And as you become a valued contact you will be able to pitch ideas which will get your business more column inches and strengthen your network’s influence.

Things to remember when talking to a reporter

  • It is always on record, unless you say otherwise. When you talk to a journalist face-to-face, on the phone, via email or on social media, assume the conversation is on the record. If you do not want to be quoted or for your name to be used, make that clear.
  • Understand ‘off the record’ or ‘background’. Since journalists have differing definitions of what ‘off the record’ is, it’s important to be clear whether you want to be quoted and whether you are happy for your story to appear. Background generally means the reporter can use the information without attributing it to you.
  • If you do not want to answer, you don’t have to. If a journalist asks you about something you are not ready to discuss, you don’t have to answer. One option is to deflect the question to one of the messages you want to get out. Alternatively, simply tell them you would rather not say. If you do not want to talk at all, say so politely and clearly.
  • Stay on message. It is a good idea to know what you want to say before talking to a journalist. Think about your message and practice saying it in words that feel natural to you. The wording should be clear, concise and easy to understand. Don’t be afraid to repeat your message.
  • Keep it simple. Capture the essence of what you want to say in the first couple of sentences of your response and add detail as the conversation progresses. Journalists are often looking for soundbites; clear, simple quotes which can be understood by a wide audience.
  • Tell the truth. If you give false information to a reporter, your reputation is at stake. If you are asked about something you do not know the answer to, never make it up. Just say you are not sure and, if necessary, find out and get back to them later.
  • Listen. Make sure you know what question you are answering. Sometimes the question itself can suggest appropriate ways to focus or phrase an answer. Not listening and repeating your message will frustrate the journalist and make for a fraught conversation.
  • There is usually a tight deadline. Reply to journalist’s calls and emails promptly. When speaking to a news journalist, keep conversations brief, or you will miss your chance. Feature writers generally take more time and speak in more depth, but they also often work to short deadlines.

How to write a press release

A press release is a great way to help get your business seen. Releases should tell an interesting story and introduce some of the people involved. If possible they should be accompanied by a good quality photograph to help tell the story and reinforce the message.

 

The first two sentences are key. They should peak the reader’s interest and make them want to read more. If you are struggling to find an angle, possible topics include environmental improvements, community connections, local heritage and working with charities. Journalists are always looking for something different.

 

The middle of the press release should explain the story. Include facts and statistics which offer an insight into your business and explain who, what, why, when and how. Next include a quote or two from people in your business and who you are working with. Be sure to credit individuals and organisations who deserve it.

 

Give your contact details and, in a separate section, describe the organisation or individual who sent the release and any relevant partners. Send the release out to all your relevant contacts.

 

Follow up the release with a friendly phone call asking whether and when it will be used and offering further information, and look out for when it appears. Download the ‘How to write a press release’ factsheet at: www.24hoursinfarming. co.uk

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