What not to do when working with media

Perth, like so many cities around the world is going through a media transformation. The buy-out of the Community News group by Seven West and mass retrenchments at The West Australian have sent shock waves through the industry.

As Perth PR professionals, we don’t have a lot of options now. The media is all interlinked and the story opportunities have become slimmer. There’s no room for error. Which makes it all the difficult when clients have ambitious expectations about the media coverage their business ‘deserves’.

It’s really important to work with your PR professional to create a strong earned media strategy. Requests was appropriate 10 years ago, simply won’t fly.

Here are some things that you might want to consider when you’re briefing your consultant to build your profile in the media.

1. Don’t hold a press conference. Unless you’re the Police or a Politician, press conferences are very rarely successful. There’s simply not the media on the ground to make it happen. At best, create an event and invite the media along. You may get some interest but you’re best working directly with a journalist to create the best piece possible.

2. Don’t expect interest on the weekend. We have next to no one left in our newsrooms on the weekend in Perth. Unless you have no option, embargo the story and give it to the news outlet during the week for publication on the weekend. Work with your PR professional to get materials ready in advance such as images, video and background so it can be packaged in advance when there are more resources.

3. Don’t let your spokesperson ‘wing it’. With so few Perth media options, there is no room for error. Make sure your spokesperson is across their brief, has practiced the key messages in advance and knows the detail. Media training is important, regardless of how ‘small’ they think the interview is. And don’t back out of an interview once committed. It’s a great way to ruin relationships with the media and your PR consultant.

4. Don’t sell the same story to every outlet in Perth. Unless it’s a particularly newsworthy story, you need to find slightly new angles for each media outlet. So be prepared to work with your PR professional to find talent, stats or case-studies that take the story to another level.

5. Don’t try and hide the truth. You might get away with it in the first instance, but it doesn’t take much to be found out in this age of social media. Any story that makes a media outlet look foolish for publishing errors will only attract their wrath in the future.

6. Don’t ask to see the story before it’s published. Putting pressure on your PR consultant to ask for journalist to share a story is the equivalent of a groom asking to see the bridal gown before th big day. It’s not fair and will put everyone in an awkward position.

Clarity has been working with the media in Perth, Western Australia for 20 years. Many of those clients come to the business with a specific issue or crisis and are being pressured to front the media and explain their side of the story. We also work with clients to build their profiles through the media.

See our case-studies for more inspiration:
WA Day

To give your spokesperson the edge, click here.


Anthony Hasluck
Managing Director

Anthony Hasluck - Managing Director of Clarity Communications

Anthony is the majority owner of Western Australia’s largest independent public relations agency, Clarity Communications. In addition to his managerial and consulting activities connected with Clarity, Anthony is a Director the Racing and Gaming Authority.