Using Media To Make Your Voice Heard

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The press is the greatest force to sway public opinion, which effects every aspect of politics. When you meet the press, the outcome is usually a story, so you should be prepared with a media relations plan. Determine beforehand exactly what the story is, and seize the opportunity to get your message out to the public.

The more diligently you prepare for an interview, the greater the chances for control and success. Formulate your communication objectives in advance. Identify the message or response you would like to see reported and jump at every opportunity during the interview to make your point. Have all the facts at your fingertips. Anticipate questions and prepare beforehand.

Deadlines are crucial to the media. Just as you plan your activities, the media schedules deadlines which are critical to their performance. If you fail to meet a station's or publication's deadline, the story is going to be developed without your input. Disregarding media deadlines can also jeopardize your rapport with the media or even be construed as a "no comment" or unwillingness to cooperate.

When speaking, remember that a lie or even an exaggeration to the press can damage your credibility forever. When a question arises which requires detailed facts not readily available, do not guess. Simply say that you will get the answer as soon as possible after the interview, and do so. If it is entirely out of your area of expertise, say so. The following points will help you convey your message:

Your objectives should become the basis of your interview strategy when dealing with the press. If you know in advance what you want to accomplish and what messages you want to transmit to what audience, the media relations job becomes much easier.

In any good publication, there is absolutely no correlation between advertising and editorial departments. Always operate on the premise that the newspaper is using your information solely because it is newsworthy. Don't try to use advertising dollars to influence an editor and don't claim that you will boycott a publication which treats you badly.

Another form of media is letters to the editor. Although structured much like letters to officials, their purpose is different. They aim to build awareness and gain the support of the general public. Use letters to the editor to address a specific issue while itís hot. The more timely and newsworthy they are, the more likely they are to be published. Keep in mind that you must promote your cause with a balanced discussion.

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