Getting Along with the Media
By Frank Brown Jr.
If news editors had a favorite Bible verse it probably would be Romans 10:15 in the New International Version, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” And since the church is in the “good news” business, no one should have better relations with the media Newspapers, radio and television, all reach people, large numbers of people, both inside and outside the church.
These commercial news outlets offer some of the greatest opportunities to communicate with the broadest possible audience. So a good working relationship with the media professionals in your community should be a top priority in your public relations and promotions efforts.
Pleasant and fruitful work with the media requires a basic understanding of the secular press perspective and a healthy attitude toward the media as a whole. It is also vital to understand the nature of news gathering and reporting.
First of all, the media are friends, not foes. Unfortunately in some sectors there is a mistrust of the media, and in the church it sometimes borders on paranoia. In most instances, the members of the press are neither hostile nor incompetent. They attempt to be objective and professional.
The American philosophy of the press views the media as guardians of the public interest. If so, you have a common concern, the good of the people in your church and its activities in terms of how it relates to their audience. It is important to see your programs from their viewpoint and to slant your releases to the unchurched.
The driving forces behind most media professionals reflect both the nature of news and the press viewpoint. These forces include:
The passion for objectivity – No one in or out of the media can remain infallibly objective; however, this is a strong motivation for most reporters. Feeding the media flowery, overly enthusiastic accounts will destroy both your credibility and their esteem.
The obsession with timeliness – News is only news if it’s new. Stories often die the same day they are born, and in some instances deadlines come almost hourly. You must be aware of and meet these deadlines without exception.
The quest for the unusual – News is the unusual, not the routine. It is the account of a previously unreported event or previously unreported information about the event. Always consider what angle will make your story different and therefore worthy of using.
An emphasis on the interesting – The media are concerned about people, not programs. Names make news. Happenings that arouse emotions such as sympathy, pleasure, delight, admiration, pity or surprise also make good stories.
The demands for the specific-Generalizations are not news, as a rule. Reporting “hundreds” attended a service is inconclusive. Saying “450 attended” is exact. The media need hard, accurate data numbers, names, etc. News is fact specific, correct facts.
Don’t ask an editor or news director to “give my church some publicity.” Publicity is not his business. News is! If you give him significant, interesting facts, he will give you coverage. You may call it publicity, but he will call it news. And remember, when or if your story is botched, be Christian! Suffer patiently and quietly. Conduct yourself so that whenever the editor sees you coming, he thinks “good news.”
From: www.ag.org/publicrelations web site. July 2009
“This article may not be not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat meat. Throw away the bones.”