By Margaret Garmon
Media experts shared tips and tools of the trade in Getting Your Story on the Air when almost 100 representatives of area agencies, businesses and educational institutions gathered recently for the morning media panel and coffee.
Dick Rusk of WKYC-TV News (Channel 3), Joe Finan of WNIR (100.1), and Vince Duffy of WKSU (89.7) shared their thoughts and advice on how best to get airplay on television and radio for your news story.
The panel discussion held at Kent State University was co-sponsored by PR Newswire and the Alumni Council of the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Gary Hanson, assistant professor in the JMC School, was panel moderator.
Air time is tight and competition for air time is fierce. Our panel is here to tell you what happens when your press releases cross their desks, Hanson said.
For Rusk, a story that adds visual interest attracts his interest.
We look at what works for a TV audience, a story that is truly phenomenal and out of the ordinary. We look for a gimmick so we can see the story with TV being the visual medium it is, Rusk said.
For Finan, calling in with a thought-provoking point of view is one way to catch the attention of the talk show host and in turn, the interest of fellow listeners.
Call in and bring up an issue. Challenge the opposite point of view. Be persistent, Finan said.
Its amazing to me that more people dont use talk radio. If people think were dominated by conservatives, its because the conservatives are so well-organized and call in, he added.
For Duffy, knowing your audience is the key.
I get 70 to 80 press releases a day and 90 percent of the releases are discarded because they have no interest to my audience. WKSU (89.7) covers Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown, so it has to be a great story for all of my audience, Duffy said.
A great story is one that covers the issues people get up with in the morning and go to bed with at night.
Professionalism in the preparation of press releases is a plus. Include a contact name and follow-up phone number if media have questions or want to arrange an interview. Be specific with details, cover the 5Ws and H of Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Allow enough lead time of two days to a week.
If your story doesnt get air time the first time, dont give up. Keep in mind that time is tight and competition is fierce, whether from national news or the 200-plus other organizations in a broadcast area. If your story doesnt make it in the first time, keep trying. A news slot might open up at the right place and time for your story.
Be persistent. Repetition is the soul of getting a story across to the public. Thats why commercials work, repetition, Finan said.