Media Savvy ? Media Skills For Rural Women

The ability to lead, persuade and influence are integral skills for effective leaders. The capability of telling a story that inspires, motivates and informs is an essential part of this process. In an age of convergence in the media and increased scepticism over traditional communication methods, a new breed of leader is emerging that sees the media as an opportunity and not a threat. They use the media in a pro-active way to build their community or organisation's image, reputation and identity.

Business Review Weekly's cover story "Future Leaders" editorial reported "new chief executives must have better presentation skills, for they will be required to perform in the electronic and printed media. Poor presentation will be perceived as a weakness in leadership, and arrogance or condescending attitudes will only be tolerated while the company is on top," (BRW December 14, 1998 P.14).

The WA Rural Women in Leadership program is designed for women 40 years and above to enhance their personal leadership skills through a range of learning modules.

I found the women I was working with in a half-day module on "Managing the Media" highly motivated, articulate and committed to community development in their respective regions.

My role with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as both a broadcaster interviewing key decision makers and as a manager providing editorial leadership for program makers, allowed me to observe first hand how effective leaders use the media to get their message across.

I now share this knowledge and experience with a range of clients to add value, improve performance and build capabilities. Our company has built a reputation for excellence in media strategy, issues management, change management, marketing communications, media training, financial journalism and professional speaking. A practical approach is focused on helping people strategically manage real-life situations.

Getting positive exposure in the media can be more powerful than any advertising campaign. It is far-reaching, utterly credible and free. As an added bonus, you may well attract an audience you had never anticipated.

But talking to reporters can be risky and threatening for first timers. You can say too much and lose control of the interview. You can say the wrong thing and damage your reputation. Or you can say "no comment" and lose an opportunity.

The only way to build your reputation is by learning the secrets of how the media works.

The benefits for rural women on knowing and understanding how the media works are increased confidence and a greater opportunity to make their views, ideas and solutions heard.

In working with groups, I share with them what I believe are 10 tips for working with the media:

10 Tips

These are 10 success tips that will help leaders get the best from the media.

1. Know Your Strengths. What are you an expert at? What is your specialized area of expertise? What unique services or information can you offer? Position yourself as the expert.

2. Clarify your communication objectives? What do you want to achieve? To inform or entertain? To provide information? To build a profile? To influence public opinion? Personal marketing? Marketing or launching a new product or service?

3. Define your target audience? Who is your target audience? General public? Customers? Competitors? Suppliers? What age are they, what level of education, what beliefs and values, geographical location, how do they use the media?

4. Identify the best channels of communication. What is the best way to reach your target audience? TV, Radio, Internet, newspapers - local or Statewide, specialist or generalist, industry publications, community newsletters?

5. What is your key message? Distill what you want to say into three key points. Work out the best time to deliver this message and who will deliver it.

6. Build your case? What are the features, advantages and benefits of your message for your target audience? What evidence and proof do you have?

7. What is the hook? What will make your message or news release stand out from the rest? Be creative. Use a press release to control the information flow.

8. Develop long-term relationships with the media. Visit and meet them face to face. Network and get to know them.

9. Use the Three Golden Rules to Perform at your Best = Know Your Topic, Be Prepared, Relax.

10. Seek Professional Help. For maximum impact, effectiveness and value seek the advice of a media and communications professional.

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries.

You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com. Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom's blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com.

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