“People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” – Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan
Whether you like your newspaper with your morning coffee or prefer to save it for the weekend lie in, there’s no denying that newspapers play an important role in our lives and the professional lives of communicators.
Last week, I put my presidential hat on (ok I don’t have a special hat but perhaps I should get one?) and joined 12 members of the Public Relations Institute of Australia for an exclusive tour of Media House with The Age and 3AW. Following the tour we sat down for lunch with three journalists from the paper.
Fellow PRIA member and Communications Manager for The Age, Miranda Schuppan, led the exclusive tour. She started at the epicentre of editorial operations – the modern newsroom with numerous journalists working across the day to produce news for print and online versions of The Age.
Shane Green a senior journalist with The Age talked through the various areas of the newsroom. He’s held a number of roles with the organisation and was happy to share his insights with our members.
We then huddled around the screen of theage.com.au editor, Daniel Sankey, and saw how quickly they were able to publish stories. If you think the back end of your website is impressive, consider how it would cope with hundreds of new stories a day and thousands of unique visitors a month. At the time they were just about to break a World Cup 2022 story.
Daniel told us about the peak times for online news viewing. They are 8am when people are arriving at work, lunchtime when people are munching on their sushi and a little before 5pm when they’re packing up to head home. Hands up if you head to theage.com.au at one or all of those times?
If you’re a regular visitor to theage.com.au you’ll know that video content is being used more and more. What you might not know is that it is produced at Media House. We were shown the well-equipped studio, which is just like a mini commercial television studio and is used for video interviews, panel discussions and other reports.
A few floors up, we met David Mann or “Mann about Town” as many people know him. He’s been at 3AW for many years and has held both on-air and behind the scene roles.
David shuffled us into one of the studios that was free at the time and provided the group with an insight into 3AW’s production process. He gave each of us some handy hints on working with the team at 3AW and answered many of our burning questions.
We also met some of the voices behind the news broadcasts and were delighted to learn that one of our fellow PRIA members, Keith Hainsworth from Deakin University, had started his career in the 3AW newsroom.
David showed us the impressive technology that keeps the station on air and said that the greatest technological advancement for radio was the invention of the mobile phone. He said that mobile phones have produced thousands of news reporters for radio stations. Effectively, every listener is a reporter, because when anything happens in Melbourne, they ring in immediately with first-hand accounts of the unfolding event.
Finally, David and Miranda gave us some great advice for preparing clients for radio and press interviews. Over lunch with Daniel Sankey, Shane Green and Laura Hamilton we spoke about a range of topics from what different sections cover to the best way to present stories to The Age and 3AW.
Here are some tips:
- relationships with journalists are critical, particularly knowing what topics/rounds they cover
- read something written by the journalist or listen to a show that you’re pitching to
- make sure your pitch/story is newsworthy and pick an interesting angle
- make sure you know what time of day is appropriate to call a journo or producer. And even pick the right minute to phone in. For example, don’t call a radio producer on the hour or half hour, because they’ll be listening to the news bulletin. Best time to call is quarter past or quarter to the hour.
- always spell a journo or producer’s name correctly.
Finally, a big thanks to Miranda, David, Daniel, Shane and Laura for sharing their time with us and showing us around Media House.
Jack @ the c word