A quick google search of ‘top tips for landing stories with journalists’ yields thousands and thousands of results. Lists of advice on how you should ‘make your pitch short’, ‘know the interests of the journalist’ and always, always ‘send a personalised pitch’. It could easily seem that the world of media relations and PR is oriented around the whims and preferences of journalists. The temptation for a PR team is when the journalist says ‘jump’, we say, ‘how high?’.
At Jersey Road PR it is our passion to make the voices of faith based organisations heard. To do that it is fundamentally important that we remain true to the voice and values of our clients. But if that voice is going to be heard, we need the co-operation of journalists. So how does this balance work?
It is a conundrum that we came up against only this week. A client of ours was looking to land an article reflecting on the response to the Bishop of St David’s controversial tweet about the Conservative party in the aftermath of Matt Hancock’s affair. The piece was duly sent out and a national political news outlet picked it up. We were delighted. But then came the push back… “We’d be happy to publish the piece. But please could your take out all the biblical references?”
So how do you respond? The argument of the article rested on a biblical view of the state of humanity.
On the one hand the news outlet in question was secular, not faith based with a readership that largely reflected that, so it was important for us to be conscious of the audience the piece aimed at and to tailor it accordingly. Getting your voice heard isn’t simply a case of shouting your message as loudly as possible. You have to win yourself a hearing and meet the audience where they are …. and sometimes that does involve toning your message down.
But the argument of the piece and the values of the client rested on their faith and the view of the world that gave them. So instead of taking all references to faith out, our account manager working on the piece moderated the language, but went back to the journalist and explained the importance of faith in the piece. Explained why faith was relevant. There was every risk that the journalist would drop the piece as a result. But they didn’t, they understood and agreed to publish it.
This is a great example of what we are all about at Jersey Road PR. It isn’t about just saying what you want to say, however you want to say it and hoping someone will listen. It is about showing your message is relevant. Showing faith is relevant; that is an important and needed part of public discourse. Faith-based organisations are doing incredible things that cannot be divorced from the faith they are based on. Each of our clients has a story worth telling – we’re here to help them share it.
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