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					         Speech Pathology Australia

How to successfully work with the media

    Prepared for Public Affairs Leaders
             By Fenton Communications
Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Table of Contents

Introduction                               3

Who are the media?                         4

Identifying media opportunities            7

How to work with the media                 10

Interview tips                             16

Sample media materials                     18

Glossary                                   22

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Speech Pathology Australia has prepared this document to assist Public Affairs
Leaders in their understanding of how the media work and how to capitalise on
media opportunities.

Media relations plays a crucial role in enhancing the public image of the
Association and positioning it as a credible, authoritative and reliable

Public Affairs Leaders play an important role in the Association’s media relations
activities, particularly in relation to branch based events and building
relationships with local and regional media.

This document aims to provide helpful information to Public Affairs Leaders on
how to co-ordinate a media relations campaign.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Who are the media?
The media has the power to influence its readers, listeners and viewers. The
media can significantly raise the public profile of an issue by putting it at the top
of the public agenda.

The media can be divided into three core groups: print, radio and television.

The three media groups differ in how they reach people and how people react to
them and, therefore, how they need to be approached.

Within the three media groups there are further distinctions. These include:
National – eg. The Australian, The Australian Financial Review
Metropolitan dailies - eg. The Age, The Daily Telegraph, The Advertiser
Suburban – eg. suburban newspapers, Moonee Valley Gazette, Eastern Suburbs
Regional – eg. Ballarat Courier, Port Lincoln Times
Specialist – eg. health publications Good Medicine, Good Health
Magazines – eg. Cleo, Marie Claire

Metropolitan – radio news and radio talk back
Suburban Community – radio news & talk back
Regional – radio news and talk back

News – Channel 10, 9, 7, ABC and SBS News
Current Affairs – eg. Today Tonight, A Current Affair, 7:30 Report

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Regional News – local news

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Suburban and Regional Media

There are a number of ways to work with your local media to achieve successful

The most important element of media relations is understanding who the media
are and what types of stories they prefer. Your local regional or suburban media
are generally very receptive to local stories and are your best opportunity for
gaining coverage. They arethe best medium for raising awareness of speech

Read your local newspapers to understand what stories they publish and what
regular features there are that present an opportunity for you.

In most cases, the editor is responsible for the overall presentation of the
newspaper. Many papers also have news editors. The news editor selects the
stories that will be published from the range of material they receive each day.

Metropolitan media
Metropolitan media tends to be concerned with issues or events that affect a
large number of people. It is harder to gain coverage in metropolitan media in
particular daily newspapers or the nightly news on television.

When contacting metropolitan news ensure your story really would be of interest
to them. You can ask yourself a number of questions to ascertain this. Does/will
this affect a large number of people? Is this something I would regularly see in a
daily newspaper or on nightly television news?

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Remember: The three types of media look for different elements in the story
opportunity you are offering. For example:

•   Radio: talkback radio looks for a good interview opportunity – what they call
    ‘good talent’. Radio news require a short snappy statement that highlights
    your cause or news.

•   Television: requires a good moving picture. At times, the difference between
    your story making the news or not can be the quality/interest of the
    accompanying footage.

•   Print: also requires a good pictorial opportunity. While your story may be
    strong by itself, regional and suburban newspapers often like a photo to
    support editorial.

Remember: A picture paints a thousand words

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Identifying media opportunities

Identifying a story

There are story opportunities all around you. Journalists are in the business of
finding good stories, and all they need is a “hook”. A hook is a good lead for a
story, something that will grab a journalist’s attention, and therefore the attention
of their audience. Once you have the journalist hooked, you have a good chance
of interesting them in your story. For example, a hook may be the release of new
statistics or the 50th anniversary of Speech Pathology Australia. Listed below are
a number of questions to ask yourself to assist in identifying story opportunities:

•      Has a speech pathologist done something of interest – new research
•      Has a colleague/client/patient achieved a milestone?
•      Any interesting facts about patients/clients or speech pathology in
•      Has a colleague achieved something special? e.g. have they won an award
       celebrating their achievements?

While you are completing your everyday duties think whether a situation would
be good for media. Local media tend to like local issues with local stories; so
keep an eye out for anything you think may be of interest.

Special Events
Special events can be seen as media “triggers”. A special event may provide the
trigger to attract a journalist’s interest in the first instance, which may lead to a
bigger story. Speech Pathology Australia manages a number of events each year
that provide great opportunities to contact your local media. Two of these events

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

are: Speech Pathology Australia National Conference and Speech Pathology

Listed below are a number of ideas you could explore as opportunities to contact
your local newspaper about Speech Pathology Australia National Conference:

•   Is a speech pathologist from your local suburb/city/state speaking at the
    conference? Send a profile to your local newspaper with the heading ‘local
    speech pathologist to present at Australia’s prestigious Speech Pathology

•   Is an issue being presented/discussed at the conference one that affects your
    local community eg. school children and the importance of early intervention
    (media are keen to photograph children)

Speech Pathology Week provides a great opportunity to contact your local media

•   Speech Pathology Week is a timely event;
•   It runs for a week allowing time for local media to cover story,
•   Local media like awareness campaigns and Speech Pathology Week is
    primarily an awareness campaign about the issues of human communication;
•   The Sponsored Silence is a novel fundraising campaign that local media will

General opportunities

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

•   If you see an article in your metropolitan daily newspaper eg. The Age, Daily
    Telegraph or The Advertiser on an issue that is related to speech pathology
    call your local paper to offer comment and a local angle.

    For example: There may be an opinion piece in The Age on the reduction in
    oral health services in Australia. If you are in Bendigo you may be able to ring
    the Bendigo Advertiser to supply comparative figures on the number of
    people who use such services in the local area.

•   If you are planning an event or want to raise awareness of a speech pathology
    issue contact your local paper to ask them to do a story about it – either in a
    ‘What’s on’ column or as part of an article on the need for speech pathologists
    in your local area.
    Consider timing your information evenings to coincide with media
    opportunities as identified in the ‘Events Calendar’.

•         Writing a Letter to the Editor can also be an effective tool for raising awareness of

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

How to work with the media

What to do with your story opportunity

The usual format for sending a story opportunity to print, radio or television is
via a media release or media advisory.

In some circumstances it may be appropriate to call a journalist to let them know
an event is coming up and to ask if they are interested in receiving further
information or attending. This is also called a “pitch”.

With radio and television, more so than print media, it is important to pitch your
story to the journalist in a clear and concise manner. Journalists work to
deadlines and must choose from a plethora of news stories each day, so for this
reason it is imperative to get your story idea across in the quickest and most
interesting way possible.

Hint: Make yourself a list of newsworthy points regarding your story and try to
“sell” the story to the journalist in the first few minutes on the phone. (eg. what
can you offer them? Great vision or photo opportunity, good talent, background
information, an “exclusive” etc.)

Drafting a media release:

•   Think about the most important thing you want to say. Tip: If all else were
    cut out, what would you want to remain?

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

•   Convert this point to a heading – be brief and dramatic. But, avoid beating
    the story up because you may need the support of the journalist in future and
    don’t want to discredit yourself.
•   The first paragraph should include who, what, where, when, why and how.
•   You usually have about five seconds to engage the journalist’s interest, so
    make your introduction good.
•   Don’t leave your key point to the last paragraph.
•   The nature of speech pathology means that you can be factual or when
    appropriate use more emotionally charged language. (see examples at end of
•   Keep it to one page if possible. You can follow-up with a phone call that
    allows further explanation.
•   The strength of your story is that it’s local – highlight this by stating where
    the story is based.
•   Include some background material or fact sheets on speech pathology
•   Use 1 1/2 or double spacing throughout the document.
•   Give an after hours contact number.
•   Always have someone read over media materials.
•   Make sure you have accurate contact details and that the journalist is
    available (not on leave etc)
•   Ensure that your return contact details at the end of the release are correct.
•   Make the media release sentences short and the paragraphs very short. (one
    sentence per paragraph is ok)

It is important you send your media release/advisory via National Office, just to
let them know what you are up to and what issue you plan to raise.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

The Association would like to work with Public Affairs Leaders in a strategic and
coordinated manner to ensure messages are consistent and our efforts

Distribution of release:

•   Fax or email the release to your local newspaper or radio station, either to the
    news editor or editor. Ring and find out their names – it will help when
    conducting media follow-up if you can ask for them by name.

•   If there is a specialist reporter, i.e. a health or medical journalist or family
    reporter you have dealt with before, mark the media release to their attention.

•   Call the next day to ensure they received the media release.

•   Summarise the key points quickly and succinctly.

•   Ask if you can be of further assistance. Tip: Offer to be interviewed and
    always offer to send through further background information.

•   Always be as helpful and understanding of the journalist’s role as you can.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Hint: There are a number of elements to a story opportunity that increase the
likelihood of your story being covered. These include:
              •   The media tend to like stories that involve children
              •   The opportunity must be timely
              •   The story must be relevant to those reading the local newspaper
              •   The more people affected by the story opportunity the better

Managing expectations

It is important to manage the speech pathologist or clients/patients expectations
in regard to media coverage. You must make them aware that although the
journalist is interviewing them the story may not make it into the paper. Let
them know that the placement of the story or the difference between it appearing
or not, is dependent on what other events or incidents are happening that are of
media interest, e.g. missing person, bushfire or serious car accident.

You must keep your colleague, patient or client informed of what you are hoping
to achieve and how you are going to try to achieve this. Let them know straight
away if a journalist would like to interview them so that they can make

You should always attend the interview to offer the person/s involved support
and to ensure the journalist is given accurate information.

Timing of distribution

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Many speech pathology stories can be categorised as ‘soft news’ because they are
not time sensitive and tend to be awareness raising. These types of stories can
take longer to appear than hard news stories (hard news stories mean car
accidents, missing person, bush fire etc.).

When dealing with local newspapers that only come out weekly or bi-weekly
you need to plan well ahead as journalists submit their stories much earlier –
compared with daily newspapers where the journalist may submit the story only
the day before.

Local papers can at times be under resourced so it may take longer to find an
interview time that suits both the journalist and photographer.

Radio is more instantaneous and interviews can be set up within a day or so of
the first phone call to follow-up your media release.

Frequency                                  Ideal First Contact
Weekly/bi-weekly Newspaper                 2 weeks prior to your preferred date
                                           of appearance
Daily Newspaper                            1 week prior to your preferred date of
                                           appearance; 2 days if story of high
                                           public interest
Radio                                      4 days prior to your preferred date of

What is a successful result?

Success can be measured by:
•       The number of enquiries/awareness generated from media stories

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

•      The accuracy of the journalist’s explanation of the issue
•      How comfortable you or the client/patient feels with the result

Important things to remember when generating media coverage and measuring
your success:
•      You have no control over what day the article will appear
•      You will not have an opportunity to ‘edit’ or ‘approve’ the journalist’s
    work before it goes to print/air

Golden Rules

•   When you fax a media release/advisory always call to check that they have
    received it. Faxes tend to go astray and the journalist will not chase the story
    unless it’s hard news. By hard news, we mean a bank robbery or a murder.

•   If a journalist calls – ALWAYS RING BACK as soon as possible! They may be
    chasing up a lead or looking for an expert comment from a speech
    pathologist. Remember: journalists work to tight deadlines, so if they can’t get
    a comment from you, they may run with the story without hearing both sides
    of the issue.

•   Be sure to know what your key messages are and communicate these clearly
    to the journalist.
•   Your suburban and regional media are generally quite responsive to local
    stories and you should try your story opportunity with them first.

•   Ensure you effectively explain to the journalist what speech pathology is to
    avoid confusion with other related health areas. Impress upon the journalist
    the importance of making this clear in their article.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

•   Always brief the client/patient on what you are trying to achieve with the
    media coverage.

•   After the article has appeared, call the journalist concerned and thank them
    for their support/interest.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Interview tips

Preparing for a media interview is crucial. Outlined below are some helpful
hints on how to prepare for print, radio and television interviews.

Before the interview

• Find out what line the interview will take, how long it will last and main
    areas of questioning. Don't be afraid to ask why you are being approached,
    and satisfy yourself that you are able to deal with the subject.
• Make sure you know what the Speech Pathology Australia view is on the
• Write down your key messages (no more than four)
• Write down the six questions you are most likely to be asked and plan
    informative and interesting answers to them.
• See the interview as an opportunity to advance positive views and promote
    Speech Pathology Australia.
• Think of a brief phrase which will have an impact for your closing remark.
•   Personalise the interview as much as possible by using real life examples
    (without breaching client confidentiality).

Interview techniques

• Allow adequate time before an interview to prepare thoroughly and gather
    your thoughts.
• Be honest and accurate. If you don't know the answer, say so.
• Make every effort to avoid jargon. Keep the language simple.
• Don't get bogged down with complex figures.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

• Try to state your conclusion first. By doing this, you have made your point
   even if the interview ends prematurely.
• When you have answered the question, stop talking. It is the interviewer’s
   role to keep the interview flowing.
• Don't evade tough questions. Restructure it to suit the answer you want to
   give. For instance, “That is of course a good point, but of greater importance
• Use as much of the interview time as you can to push your message across.
• Remember the quick grab. The journalist is always looking for the one
   sentence that encapsulates the story. While an interview may last for some
   time, your comments will go to air or print as short snippets.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Sample media materials

Media release - Speech Pathology Australia National Conference 2000

Media Release - Date
Australian students at risk say speech pathologists

Many Australian students with communication disabilities are being made to
wait too long for speech pathology services according to the President of Speech
Pathology Australia, Ms Kath Vidler. She says that this is having a detrimental
effect on their learning capacity.

“Children are generally receiving support only after they have failed and become
used to failing. This is unacceptable when our education system is so heavily
reliant on communication skills for speaking, listening, reading, writing and
learning,” said Ms Vidler.

“We need more speech pathologists in the education system to ensure students
who could be helped are not failing or dropping out.”

Ms Vidler is attending the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference
being held in Adelaide from today until Friday, 12 May 2000.

Nearly 400 speech pathologists from Australia and around the world will be
discussing issues that affect ONE IN SEVEN AUSTRALIANS.

Findings from current research, mean speech pathologists can identify 5-6 year
olds and in many cases even younger children who appear to be at risk in
language and literacy learning. By identifying children with a communication
disability early, failure can often be avoided.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

For further information please contact Joe Bloggs at Fenton Communications on
(03) XXXX XXXX or email
Media release – Speech Pathology Week 2000
Media Release - date

         Bullying & isolation – early intervention is the key

“As many as one in five Australian children are at risk of falling behind at school
and socially because they are suffering an untreated communication disability”,
said Speech Pathology Australia, President, Kath Vidler.

“Early intervention is the key to saving children suffering a communication
disability from isolation and bullying”, Ms Vidler said at the beginning of Speech
Pathology Week.

Early intervention is the focus of this year’s Speech Pathology Week held
22 – 28 July 2000.

“Children from the age of two begin to demonstrate awareness and interest in
sounds and words and if not developed there is the danger they may fall behind”
said Ms Vidler.

According to Speech Pathology Australia, a communication disability could
include a variety of problems such as being unable to communicate verbally,
difficulty with pronunciation of some words and difficulty learning to read and

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Ms Vidler advises “if you think your child is not developing at the same rate as
their friends or has a problem reading and writing once they’ve started school it
is crucial that a speech pathologist be contacted”.

Speech pathologists can help you equip your children with the skills to make
reading and spelling a successful and positive experience.

To aid in raising awareness of Speech Pathology Week a number of events will
be held nationally.
•   They include:     Sponsored Silence – all monies raised will go to the
    "Starlight Children's Foundation"
•   Open phone line in NSW 28 July – 10:00am to 7:00pm on 02 9743 0013
•   Open phone line in Qld 22 – 28 July – 9:00am to 5:00pm on 07 3852 410

For further information or to arrange an interview please call XX on XX.

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

Speech Pathology Australia - Background

Why do we need speech pathologists?
Communication is the process of being able to understand and to be understood.
It is perhaps something many of us take for granted. Speech pathologists work
to help people with a communication disability. Communication disabilities can
arise from problems with speech, using and understanding language, voice
fluency, hearing, or reading and writing.

Who has a communication disability?
In Australia approximately:
•   386,000 children have speech delay problems
•   577,000 school-aged children have difficulties with language
•   326,000 people stutter
•   2.5 million people have hearing impairment
•   25,000 people have a severe brain injury each year

For these people their ability to communicate - talk, hear, read and write - has
broken down. Each of them will suffer frustration, anger, embarrassment or
grief from time to time as they try to communicate their needs, ideas and

Who do speech pathologists work with?
A speech pathologist’s workload might include:
•   working with a school child who can’t understand what his teacher says
•   working in a child care centre with a group of children who are hard to
•   working with a high school student who stutters
•   training a teacher who constantly loses her voice to use it more effectively

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

•   rehabilitating a young man who has a severe brain injury due to a motorcycle
•   liaising with carers of an elderly man who has dementia
•   helping a woman who has had a stroke to regain her communication skills,
    advising her husband and family
•   treating a person who has swallowing problems following stroke


Grab:               A short statement encapsulating the essence of your
                    message, usually around 10-30 seconds – the broadcast
                    equivalent of a newspaper quote.

Hard news:          A timely story stemming from very recent events, featuring
                    well-known people or places or of interest or affecting a
                    large audience (eg. political story, fire, murder etc.).

Hook:               An exciting occurrence that entices a journalist’s interest.

Jargon:             Technical or scientific terminology unfamiliar to the general

Media Advisory:     A fax, email or phone call alerting a journalist or media
                    outlet to a specific event or issue.

Media Release:      A   typically   one-page     information    release   aimed    at
                    promoting a story idea to a journalist. Should include date,
                    quotes from relevant spokesperson, contact details for

Speech Pathology Australia – Media Guide

                    further inquiries and the five W’s of the story (Who, What,
                    Where, When and Why).

Pitch:              A phone conversation or meeting with a journalist where
                    you “sell” your story idea.

Soft News:          Also known as the “human interest” or “feelgood” story,
                    perhaps aiming to raise public awareness of an issue. Not
                    time sensitive. Might feature at the end of the nightly news
                    bulletin or on a “slow news day”. (eg. firefighter rescues
                    kitten from tree, struggling family wins tattslotto, etc.).

Talent:             A person you can offer to a journalist for an interview. A
                    good spokesperson for your cause, preferably with some
                    media training.

Trigger:            A special event that may act to generate a deeper interest in
                    your industry.

Vision:             Material filmed by television camera crews to run as part of
                    your story.


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