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What do journalists want?

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Good news: the media needs you.

Too many organisations, companies and peak bodies think that gaining media coverage is for someone else. It’s not. I guarantee that you are sitting on untapped media potential. What a waste.

The media really does need you.

Without organisations just like yours actively participating in the process of identifying story ideas, contributing talent and helping to facilitate the media’s own ideas, the media would collapse for lack of content. Grant yourself a licence to participate.

gaining media coverage

Media loves misery – and lots of other stuff.

“But the media only wants bad news stories.”

No matter what some people will tell you; good news stories do get coverage, so too do bad news stories, sad news stories, complicated news ones. There is lots of space to fill with issues of every persuasion. Go get yours.

So what does media want?

NEWs: tell the media something it doesn’t know. At least a little new. New to them doesn’t mean it is new to you. It’s more likely to be re-packaged news. Spotted a trend? Unveiling a product? Launching an event? Excellent; that’s news.

EXPERTISE: Every journo has a black book. You must ensure that you feature in these lists of expert spokespeople and contacts. It’s not easy to dislodge an existing go-to contact. Generally speaking, a journo will keep going to the one contact until that contact moves on, gets boring or, heaven forbid, says “No”. Be ready to interpret and comment on data, reports and breaking news AS IT HAPPENS. That’s what experts do.  

what journalists wantVISUAL: weak stories (and downright non-stories) can be run simply due to strong visuals.  Go to great lengths to create compelling visuals. You have yourself a story as .

DATA: whether it be a small survey or a national longitudinal study, media loves something that crystallises an issue. You are sitting on data – the sort of thing that you send to members, investors, funders. Or grab a clipboard and ask 100 people three questions. It can be that easy.

SENSATION / CONTROVERSY: You don’t have to slander and lie but bold statements, strong opinions and contrary  views make more impact and engage media.

IMMEDIACY: media wants everything ASAP. First in is best dressed; even if not necessarily best informed.

PRE-PACKAGED & SELF-SAUCING STORIES: Journalists are busy people working under a lot of pressure in a harsh working culture. Also; they are as lazy as the rest of us. Thus a fully rounded story suggestion – one with expert, data, case study, visual angle and even a media-friendly opposition spokesperson is much appreciated. Do the work for them.

pr advice

Great media hit inspired by giving a journalist a “ride-along”.

ACCESS: to case studies and real life examples via you. This is vital. They also love access to visiting overseas experts. You are the insider, help them in. Let them tour your facility, meet your client, review your data.

PREDICTABILITY: journalists rarely make calls to find out what an organisation thinks about an issue. Media wants to know what you think about issues before they arise. Do you have your opinions / demands / plans listed on your website?

CONTEXT / TOPICALITY: media wants stories that tie-in with bigger issues or happenings; positive or negative. That youth crime wave terrorising the city is an opportunity to talk about: sentencing, parenting, home security, funding for youth sports, policing and more. Get on board.

RESONANCE: media wants appropriate stories that resonate with their audience. Try to make your story relevant – perhaps to parents, new parents, fathers, first home buyers, a geography, a profession. Do your potential stories relate to a niche audience? Good – now approach media that targets that audience.

SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS: propose a specific answer or solution. Don’t just commentate or whinge. Media wants your proposals so that it can hold decision-makers accountable to it.

TIMING: You will always do better if you pick a slow news day – weekends, public holidays, post-football, Summer. Choose to unveil your survey / poll / report / study at a time that makes it more topical to maximise the appeal.

how to get media coverage

Yes – this really was published by a professional journalist.

FINALLY: Don’t think that your story isn’t newsworthy. Look at the bollocks they will print! A LOCAL ANGLE  works a treat.

2016 media hit target reached by mid January.

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What’s your target for media coverage in 2016?

getting media coverage

Nice hit. Could have been yours.

United Way Australia wanted to double its coverage to 120 or so media hits. This is ambitious for a tiny organisation, that’s complex to define, with no dedicated publicist and no particular media profile. Very ambitious.

Still, we recognised United Way Australia’s media potential when we trained them on December 16. They had some projects on the ground, a fresh approach, a range of experts on staff and a passion for childhood literacy. The day was divided between Media Savvy (to gain more media opportunities) and Speak Savvy (to train spokespeople to make the most of each media interview).

You know that ambitious media target for 2016? It’s already been hit.

Since our workshop on December 16 United Way Australia has scored hits with ABC Radio National Breakfast, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian. Oh – and 139 local papers nationally.  Hits with Lateline, Daily Telegraph and other News Corp publications are en route. Opinion pieces have been drafted, new media relationships have been forged.

What would that be worth to you?

So what’s behind the spike in coverage?

  • Recognition that media coverage could help United Way Australia in its mission.
  • Realisation that what they knew and what they had to say was media-worthy.
  • Courage to get into the media fray.
  • Prioritisation on how time would be spent.
  • Strong opinions backed with real world experience.
  • New skills and perspective from our training along with regular use of our free follow-up coaching.
media training melbbourne

One day, much coverage.

We may have created a media monster. Good.

You should be getting more media coverage too. No more excuses.


PR pros should expand their media diet

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pr tips for publicists

As niche as it gets.

Many of us have pledged fidelity to a healthier diet in 2016.  One secret to a healthier physique is to broaden one’s diet. You know – by consuming something beyond carbohydrates and Barcardi Breezers.

Professionally speaking, some of us have pledged to gain more media hits this year. One way to a healthier media profile is to broaden one’s media consumption.

This bizarre magazine on the left- focussing on the lifestyles of Japanese construction workers – got us thinking about the many off-Broadway media opportunities that exist for publicists.

Brett will train dozens of publicists this year and he’ll ask most of them for their media consumption habits. Some folk don’t wander beyond beyond commercial TV and FM radio – the media versions of empty-calories. Oh dear.

If you are to be a savvy publicist you need to deliberately expand your media consumption so you can familiarise yourself with new media opportunities.

Do you read the tabloids? How about the Weekend Australian including all its supplements? Ever grab a copy of the Australian Financial Review? You should as there’s some good reading there. If you’re an ABC devotee you need to turn the dial to the commercial powerhouses. Don’t worry – you just need to listen long enough to be familiar with the program, the segments and the presenters.

Many PR folk are comfortable with local media but count themselves out of state-wide media opportunities and still fewer feel they have something to offer national media outlets. Au contraire! Tip – don’t count yourself out; let the journalist say “no”.

Radio remains under-utilised in general. Hint – radio offers the most opportunities and is most likely to say: “Yes” to your pitch. And don’t forget weekend programming.

Ask yourself: Can I find ABC Radio National on the radio?

If not, you may wish consider a career change (management perhaps?) If yes, ask yourself:

How many programs on that network can I name?

There are some specialist shows about religion, foreign relations, books & arts,  music, philosophy, regional life along with many general programs. RN is a sea of tax-payer subsidised opportunity. Big audiences too!

ABC NewsRadio. See two questions above.

And you do pitch to AM / PM and The World Today, right? Right?

pr training workshop melbourne

Introverted accountant type people love to read.

Do you pitch to / consider trade publications? Some of these babies – such as Australian Human Resource Institute’s HR Monthly or the CPA’s In The Black are HUGE within their industry and might be the way into the hearts and minds of the right people. Is reaching any particular profession important to you? Every major profession has a dominant publication or website.

Free glossies: Every major city has a number of free glossy weekly magazines usually servicing more socially upward locations. They revolve around real estate but there’s editorial too.

Other magazines that are rarely considered are the membership magazines that come from insurers, automobile clubs such as the NRMA, unions, government departments supermarkets, frequent flyer and other loyalty programs and in-flight magazines. If none of these hold promise for you, quit today.

Did you ever call up radio news rooms? Not radio programs – aim for the poor suckers who put together the news. The news bulletins are the most listened-to minutes of the radio hour and – we promise – the most likely media opportunity to get you a Yes. Stations that have no news-based talk radio content may still feature you as part of their news bulletin. Huge opportunities are calling out for you on the hour every hour.

What about big online brands such as Mamma Mia or Mumbrella? These have big readerships and outsized influence with traditional media. Are there any significant bloggers or social media stars relating to your sector?

What about podcasts? Are there any podcasters who talk about your issues? Pitch to them. You’ll make their day!

What about writing opinion pieces? Thanks to publications including The Guardian, Daily Mail and Huffington Post Australian editions there is a dramatically increased appetite for opinion pieces from experts and people with insights. PS: another reason that opinion pieces are so popular is that they are cheap for publishers.

Public radio has some significant players. Melbourne is blessed with Triple R (all manner of specialist talk shows) SYN (youth affairs) PBS and 3CR (big on politics, Indigenous affairs, arts). Some of these smaller players may be a way for you to rack-up some air miles for inexperienced talent.

media training melbbourne

One day, much coverage.

If this little blog post helped you be a better publicist imagine what a magical day together could do. Join us in Melbourne on January 28 at Media Savvy. More media coverage or your money back. Book your own anytime, anywhere.


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Public speaking tip: framing your messages

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This new video for public speakers outlines a simple way to increase the chance that you maintain control and deliver your key messages during your next presentation.

Become a more perceptively better presenter by attending our upcoming Present Savvy workshop at Melbourne’s Hotel Lindrum Wednesday November 11.

NEW fancy website for Melbourne Media Training workshop

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website benefitsSo significant is our December 10 Speak Savvy media training workshop in Melbourne that we created its own special website.

Be quick – the earlybird bonus ends October 20.



Straight to video: put thyself in the story

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Time to premiere (unleash?) another video. This cinematic masterpiece is aimed at public speakers and media spokespeople.

It’s all about the value of putting yourself in the story. World Vision CEO Tim Costello does this unfailingly. You should too. Watch and learn what we mean.

So much depends on your spokespeople’s ability to present persuasively. On their public speaking skills hinge your donations, members, staff and policy decisions. So…when was the last time you developed your messages and presentation skills?

media training australia

A book for our time.

If you want you and your team to be better presenters book a Speak Savvy workshop today. Call Brett 0414 713 802. And download our Speak Savvy the free eBook.



Media training tip #218 is all about examples

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Hootville Communications media trains hundreds of media spokespeople, public speakers and people who need to sell for a living.

We are yet to meet one person who cannot be improved by heeding this simple advice. Are you ready?

Provide examples. 

That’s it.

About 60% of media and public spokespeople offer no examples. Of the remaining 40%, half provide lame examples and the other half deliver their example too late.

Examples demonstrate your authority and authenticity. They add colour and movement and are harder to argue against than your generic comments. Not all examples are created equal. To be effective your example must be:

  • understandable to the audience but not too obvious;
  • relevant to the audience – mention geographies, companies, products or politicians;
  • specific – talk about the rise in academic performance in one school;
  • authentic – from your own experience;
  • sympathetic;
  • well rehearsed.

Check out this video:

media training australia

Who needs ‘Go set a watchman.’?

If you want to be a better speaker download our free eBook Speak Savvy.

It’s full of practical tips to make you more effective in front of people or journalists.

Free media training. Conditions apply.

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media trainer melbourne

We’ll set it all up – no pressure, no pressure.

Brett is looking for two lucky souls to each receive an hour – exactly one hour – of free training.

We are seeking one PR / media relations person and one media spokesperson. The catch? The lucky souls will be part of two experiments. We want to see how radically we can improve people’s performance in 60 minutes.

1. We’ll run the media spokesperson through four or five predictable media questions before, and then after, Brett’s training. The training will be identical to the Speak Savvy workshops enjoyed by our clients.

2. We’ll work with the PR person to package a strong story idea and refine the all important media pitch and media release. The training will be identical to the Media Savvy workshops enjoyed by our clients. Again we’ll be recording a before and after with Brett’s training in the middle.

The two one-hour sessions will be conducted separately.

Here’s the catch: the sessions will be caught on camera for us to create a short video encapsulating the experiment. We’ll also be asking the participants for their comments. The video will be used on our website and in various formats.

We’re after someone who is:

  • (for the media spokesperson experiment) a CEO or similarly senior individual with some media experience or intentions to be a media spokesperson with specific ideas about their next media foray;
  • (for the PR experiment) a PR person with less than five years experience with a specific upcoming media campaign.

Fear not – everybody’s dignity will be kept in tact. Whoever they are they will need to be:

  • happy to be recorded throughout the process;
  • willing to accommodate a rather regimented format (we want the experiment to be rigorous);
  • able to provide their thoughts about the experience on camera;
  • available to shoot in late July or first week of August in Prahran, Melbourne;
  • comfortable with our editorial judgement in regards to the final cut;
  • a good sport;
  • enthusiastic to be a part of the experiment.

So if you or your powers-that-be want to be a part of this email us. We need a brief description of the candidate, their upcoming media campaigns and of course tell us if they are after the PR or spokesperson training. Please understand that we will have to refuse all but two interested parties. Don’t delay!

Straight to video: how to write a media release.

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Prepare for a dramatic expansion in the size of YouTube. Brett’s been in the studio (back of his house) lately. He’ll soon be delivering all manner of PR advice and marketing tips. The NBN will finally get a proper workout as we premiere 20+ full colour productions, several of which feature a canine companion in a non-speaking role.

Video #1 gives a quick look at the media release – headlines, length, quotes and other components. Short sweet, video advice.


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Speak Savvy the Zimmerman way

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Brett’s back on radio and his interview with executive director of the Australian Retailers Association Richard Zimmerman holds some tips for anyone who finds themselves in front of a microphone.

media training tips

Mr Zimmerman is good talent.

Richard is an old hand and showed it from the minute Brett made contact the night before. He called from the airport, confirmed the time, double-confirmed via email and provided a landline and back- up mobile number. What a pro.

Listen to the interview as you read through the observations below.

0.53 Opening remark. Richard starts the interview and immediately asserts himself. He is keen to clarify something from the outset and does. This gives him control. Control is good. Reasonability: He immediately states that ARA is uninterested in Saturday penalty rate reforms. This reasonability will disarm many listeners.

2.15: Disagreement: Richard wastes no time challenging Brett’s assertion that retailers have a choice to open.

3.10: Puts himself in the story. “I was talking to a guy yesterday…” Always good to demonstrate your involvement, experience and connections. This creates authority.

media training

This retail chappy seems happy with his terms and conditions.

3.50: More control, assertion and reasonability. “I want to make this clear…”  Points to Monash Uni research to underline the justification for his argument.

4.50: Anticipates audience reaction: He is keen to avoid alienating listeners who defend junior staff. He knows this in advance and spends time to clarify his stance.

5.55: Positions his argument as being all about creating employment – not employers.

7.14: Global comparisons demonstrate expertise and authority.

Score: Confident, competent, engaging, reasonable: 8/10

talk radio

Hootville is on the SoundCloud. Tune in. Now.

By the way – all of Brett’s show is available via SoundCloud.

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