How to work with the media
How to work with the media
Grow your media contacts – and find interview tips for newspaper, television and radio.
The written press covers everything from local/regional to national newspapers and magazines. Typically, you can break down their journalists into four main types: news reporters, sports writers, columnists and feature writers. Here’s what to think about if you’d like more press coverage:
- Start a press contacts list
Find out who’s the most relevant person to connect with. For your local papers, it’s usually best to start with the sports editor or news editor, depending on the story you want to promote.
- Research press deadlines
Think about the frequency of your local papers – are they dailies, weeklies or less frequent? Journalists usually have a limited time to write and file a story, so try to find out about their deadlines.
- Think like a journalist
Sometimes journalists are under a lot of pressure to “get a story” (and sometimes look for scandal), but this mostly applies to the national press. Before you get in touch with your local paper, it’s worth putting yourself in the journalist’s shoes and thinking hard about the angle of your story. Find out how to write a brilliant media alert or press release here.
- Be prepared
Make sure you have all the information that you’ll need ready for the journalist, including quotes from relevant people.
- Provide images
Always try and have some good images to go with your story – the higher resolution for print, the better. See our photography tips.
- When it’s relevant… remember Join In
If your story is about your club volunteers, we’d be very grateful if you can ask the journalist to give a mention to Join In and include our website address in the story: joininuk.org
Radio stations operate almost 24/7, which means they have a lot of hours to fill. Their journalists can often turn around interviews and features very quickly – and that typically makes radio a good channel to get coverage quickly. Typically, radio covers sports stories in three main ways:
- Live event coverage
- Sports news bulletins
- Magazines and documentary programmes, which go behind the scenes
What makes a good radio interview?
If you’re going to talk on air, here are some pointers for a great radio interview.
- Be succinct. Giving clear answers will enable the radio station to find a good “soundbite” for your interview. Remember that you may not have much time – especially if you’re live – so you’ll need to keep your answers short and precise to get through all of the questions in time. As a rule, aim to keep each answer to no more than 45 seconds.
- Smile and laugh. The audience can’t see it, but they can still hear it. Laughing on the radio (though not giggling uncontrollably!) will endear you to an audience, who can only gauge your personality by what they hear.
- Bring notes. It’s fine to take notes with you – as long as you remember that the microphone will pick up the sound of you turning any pages in your notepad. It’s always better to jot down bullet points as a memory recall rather than writing pages!
Television can be a hugely powerful way to deliver your message. Just like radio, TV can have a very quick turnaround.
If you’re doing a TV interview, this will either be in a studio or – more likely – at an event you’re involved in. The crew will want to film lots of activity (as we all love to see action on TV), as well as to-camera interviews. Your interview will either be live or pre-recorded, depending on programme deadlines. As a general rule, TV treats sport in a similar way to radio and typically spans:
- Live coverage
- Recorded coverage – more likely for your activities
- Studio-based items
- Outside broadcast items
- News documentary feature programmes
There are two main areas of TV that you might deal with:
- Terrestrial TV – for example: the BBC and ITV, including local BBC and ITV news.
- Satellite/Cable – for example, BT Sport.
Note: with the onset of digital broadcasting there will be an increasing number of television stations starting up over the next few years.
What makes a good TV interview?
Here are some points to consider for TV interviews.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Unless you’re presenting, you should usually avoid looking at the camera. Typically the interviewer or cameraperson will direct you on where to stand and where to look. If they don’t, ask them!
- Smile and enjoy it. Yes, we know, that sounds easy – but if you enjoy your moment of fame, your enthusiasm will come across and you’ll look and sound confident. Forget about anyone else watching and imagine you’re simply having a conversation with the interviewer.
- And breeeathe… If you’re nervous, it’s easy to bounce around and fidget like Tigger, but too much movement is distracting for the viewer. Take a deep breath and try to stay relaxed.
- Re-takes might be possible. If the interview is being pre-recorded and you feel that you have really made a mess of an answer, ask to have another go at it. In a live interview, you just need to carry on!
- Wear your club kit. Remember that TV is very visual, so be sure to wear your club kit – or, if you’re at an event, ensure some of your club branding, such as a feather flag, is visible behind you.
Join In's PR Manager, Jenny, knows how to impress in a media interview. Here are her interview Do's and Don'ts...
- Make sure you’re on time for interviews.
- Always assume you’re being recorded.
- Be flexible – the media is often subject to sudden changes to schedules.
- Prepare: ask what the interview will be about and when it will be broadcast. This allows you to think about the topics that you will cover. There are five questions to think about - how, what, why, where and when. Think about what these are for your event.
- Take three deep breaths before the interview starts. This will help to settle your nerves.
- Talk in normal conversational language and be clear and concise. Practise with a friend if you can.
- Listen to the question and answer directly. If you’re evasive, an interviewer might get tough!
- If you’re on air with other guests, be polite and listen to their point of view.
- Use the ‘and finally’ questions to deliver a strong summary of your message.
- If you have a VIP/athlete attending your event make sure that they have seen your press release and know what the key messages are.
- Speak in jargon or use acronyms, such as LOCOG (say London 2012 instead).
- Say anything that you don’t want to be quoted.
- Say “um” and “er” if you can help it. If it’s a pre-recorded interview, take a few moments to think about your answers to help you get your points across eloquently.
- Be condescending, even if you think the interviewer has no idea. Remember they are your passport to get your message to a wider audience.
- Swear or use inappropriate language.