Make It Mediagenic: Stimulating Coverage By Creating Media-Friendly Events
Attracting media coverage requires telling a compelling story in a compelling way. Talking heads and cold, dry facts don’t entice the media to break away from the swirl of the every day to cover your event or announcement.
To stand out these days, you need a little sizzle. You need to frame your story in a way that demands attention. You need it to be “mediagenic.”
Mediagenic content includes any content that is attractive and well-suited to the news media in its many forms. It stimulates coverage because of its uniqueness, creativity or appeal. Mediagenic stories typically involve compelling images – still photography or video, and sometimes infographics – that enhance the emotional connection a reader or viewer has to the subject matter. They capture your attention and help you to experience the situation through the reporter or photographer.
Creating a mediagenic event takes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, but first and foremost, it takes strategic planning. As with any encounter with the media, you should begin with determining your business goals and objectives. Why are you seeking news coverage? Do you want to create a deeper understanding of your business? Do you want to generate an air of excitement? Do you want people to take notice of the benefits of your product or service? Regardless of your goal, you must start with a clear understanding of it in your mind so that your mediagenic event or news release elicits the desired response.
Next, determine how you want to create an emotional connection with the audience. One mediagenic technique Ward has used effectively is directly involving a reporter in the story by creating an experience for him or her. Give the reporter an opportunity to visit an oil rig, be the first to taste a chef’s new creation before it’s on the menu, or shadow a laboratory or plant worker in non-proprietary areas for the day. All of these invite the reporter to get involved, and tell the story to their audiences through their eyes. Such participation allows you to demonstrate, rather than simply assert, your best process and safety practices, company culture and product performance. The reporter experiences — and then reports — what he or she experienced as fact because they heard it with their own ears, saw it with their own eyes. It’s real to them.
Create An Experience That Resonates
If done well, reporters will embrace the experience you provide them. They will get involved and live the moment, but remember, the reporter is still a reporter. He or she still must do a job at the end of the day. Reporters do not have time to take a tour for the fun of it. They must walk away with a newsworthy story to tell.
To ensure you present a newsworthy story, every aspect of the experience must be planned in advance.
- Prepare background material. Create fact sheets and bios, whatever is needed to make sure the reporter can focus on the experience rather than worry about collecting random facts. Dry company facts that have no relevance to timely issues in your industry are, obviously, irrelevant to the reporter’s readers. Do your fact sheets help reporters understand the data around the issues or your company’s role, impact and profit from the trends? How could you update your fact sheets to make them timely and helpful while telling your company or product story?
- Make sure the experience supports the message you want to deliver. The experience you offer must be relevant to and support your key message, or you could end up facilitating a story other than the one you intended. Don’t take the reporter on a helicopter tour over your offshore rig if you really want to showcase the safety features aboard the facility. Land and let them sit through a crew safety meeting to demonstrate the detail covered in the job safety assessment, and hear the crew’s commitment to each other’s safety in their speaking.
- Think about a back-up plan in case something goes wrong. Real-life experiences make a story more relatable to viewers but they also leave room for mistakes or mishaps to occur. As Murphy’s Law states, if something can go wrong, it will. If you’ve planned a technology demonstration, have a back-up demonstration station set-up and ready to go in case the first one doesn’t work. Always have a Plan B.
- Prepare the people the reporter will be encountering. Ensure that your entire team understands the goal of the event and the boundaries for their interaction with the reporter. Everyone should be familiar with the key messages you are trying to deliver and be able to share those messages with all those who ask. This is your story, and all your people should be ready to tell it, and those who are not designated to speak should be trained how to naturally and effectively re-direct a question to prevent the impression that their first amendment rights to speak are not being violated by the company.
- Showcase the right people. Put your best foot forward and have your best people interact with the reporter. You want happy, engaged and knowledgeable employees front and center in these activities.
- Above all, make it interesting. No one wants to see another picture of executives holding golden shovels for a groundbreaking. Reporters have to attract and keep an audience interested. Back in the newsroom, an editor will make calls as news unfolds during the day as to which stories to actually publish – your creative visual that provides a new take on a common occurrence, or another company’s event that provides predictable and boring images. To make your event mediagenic, you must come up with an angle that is compelling enough to warrant coverage and strong visuals that draw the reader in as well as help tell your story.
The ultimate goal of mediagenic events and creating experiential reporting opportunities is to create a connection between the reporter and the story, and between the story and your brand. Make the reporter an educated observer and yourself a trusted source to help him or her understand the industry and how it works. The end result will be more fair, balanced and accurate coverage of your company and your sector.
Every media opportunity represents not just as a way to get the word out now about your product, service or event, but an avenue for building relationships with reporters for the future. Mediagenic experiences give reporters deeper insight into your business or industry, which in turn, helps them become better journalists. They’ll thank you for this in the form of future stories and by returning to you again and again as an industry resource.
Do you need help planning and implementing unique mediagenic events or reporting opportunities? Contact Ward, and we will help you create an activity that stimulates media interest and compels the audience to pay attention – to you.