How MediaWorks changes affect spokespeople

Posted January 22, 2016

The integration of MediaWorks into a single news hub has implications for media spokespeople that are becoming more prominent in the digital age.

Because the service will be operating 24/7 and include the most up-to-date and breaking news, the need for speed among relevant spokespeople will become even more vital when media scrutiny comes your way.

What this means is that reporters will be under pressure to get stories out as quickly as possible, meaning they won’t wait too long for spokespeople to return their calls. Where it is in your interests to be included in the story, you must respond to reporters within minutes, rather than hours. Otherwise you will lose the chance to put your case out. This could see vital information missing, publication of misinformation, or worse still, the reporter may write or say at the end of the story, “Joe Blogs refused to comment.” This makes it look like you are either guilty of something, or hiding.

In the old days, there was less pressure on reporters. They had deadlines, but only once or twice a day. This meant you had more time to get back to them. You could ask what time their deadline was, and make sure you got back to them well before that passed. Now they don’t have that luxury.

The deadlines will still exist for the evening TV News Bulletin or tomorrow’s newspaper, but a version of the story will need to be on the website immediately (This has become more and more apparent over the last few years). That story will then get pushed out through social media, where many people now get their news fix. If you are not in that story when you should be, the negative comments will start flowing on Facebook and Twitter.

You may get yourself into a later version of the story, but people will have already made up their minds about the issue. Then you will have the harder job of trying to change opinions, rather than help form them in the first place.

This and other changes to the media interview process will be covered in my book, “Media Training for Modern Leaders,” due out soon.

For more on this or my media training workshops, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555.

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