Meet the Media – More than just the Do’s and Don’t’s

By Brenda Newth, PR Partners

Auckland PRINZ members were treated to an event rarer than the return of Halley’s Comet when four of the most respected and senior journalists working in New Zealand gave us their view on modern media relations.

Ably led by chair Nevil Gibson, the panellists – Fiona Rotherham, Lesley Deverall, Fiona Macmillan and Jeremy Rees – offered a sneak peek into their newsrooms and were frank about the challenges facing their industry, and by association, PR practitioners and their clients.

Here are the key outtakes from each speaker – and if you’d like to hear more, check out the podcast on the PRINZ website (available to members only).

Fiona Rotherham, Managing Editor, Fairfax Business Bureau

Fiona Rotherham, Managing Editor, Fairfax Business Bureau

Fiona Rotherham

Fairfax’s business model means that the same reporter will write for online and the hard copy papers in the Fairfax stable. Pitching to individual journalists is effective, but remember, it still has to get past the editor!

With pressure on headcount, journalists are busy – therefore a “heads up” about an upcoming story is a good tactic as it allows the journalist to think about how best to cover the story.The Sunday paper needs exclusives, they are not going to give the news of the week another airing unless it is a big story with multiple angles.

Fiona was kind enough to reference her and her team’s pet hates, and there is a list of dos and don’ts plus some pearls of wisdom available on the PRINZ website (available to members only).

The big trend identified is fragmentation of the media – people are going to multiple places to get their news, therefore having credible journalists that people can trust to get the story has never been more important.

Lesley Deverall

Lesley Deverall, Chief Reporter, Newstalk ZB

Lesley Deverall, Chief Reporter, Newstalk ZB

Talked about the fast-paced world of radio news.

Like its print cousins, the Radio Network is adapting to change. Its team of 40 journalists (majority based in Auckland) cover both national and local stories, preparing content for bulletins that start at 5.30am and run through to midnight.The biggest bulletins of the day are 6am, 7am and 8am, follows by the afternoon peaks of 4pm and 5pm. Newstalk journalists post additional content to the website – with much longer articles and quotes than the shorter pieces that go to air.

We got some real insights into the on-going relevance of radio in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. With power supplies disrupted, the car radio was often the only way that Cantabrians could keep up to date with what had happened in the earthquake and the response of emergency services.

Don’t call either just before or just after a news bulletin.

Fiona MacMillan

Shared the vision for TV3’s Firstline breakfast news programme, which is “smart news for grown-ups”. Breakfast TV viewers are “news snackers” they will have the TV on in the background while they get ready. The show is trying to encourage more sustained viewingThe show does on average 10 interviews each day, which means that it’s a content-hungry beast, with an appetite for the best interviews. There are news bulletins every half hour. The show has just celebrated its second birthday, and has about 350,000 viewers each week.

The show’s producers appreciate long lead times and smart pitches. It is always best to know the basics of the show – its name, the host’s name and its format – before you call, otherwise your pitch will fail before you have even started. Calling the day before or late on a Friday, won’t win you any friends.

Jeremy Rees

Jeremy Rees, Online Editor in Chief, APN

Jeremy Rees, Online Editor in Chief, APN

Introduced us to the “five ages of online news”, which described how online news is changing. Once it was a race for eyeballs, now it is about finding something unique that will deliver value and engage the audience.The five ages of online news:

1. Come to the platform –the early days
2. The drive for eyeballs – amassing the audience
3. The race for value – unique content that people are engaged with
4. Get the balance right – the commercial model
5. Fragmentation – huge audiences reading at different times, having additional deeper content available

Like Fiona Rotherham before him, Jeremy too, hinted that paid online news content is not far away.

Thank you PR Partners for organising this event.

One thought on “Meet the Media – More than just the Do’s and Don’t’s

  1. Pingback: Meet the Media – More than just the Do’s and Don’t’s | Michelle Sutton

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