Communications and the Media: Tips for ParentsNovember 27, 2014
Stay current, and get to know your local media representatives.
That was among many tips that communications expert Don MacLachlan offered to parents attending the BCCPAC fall leadership conference last weekend in Nanaimo.
In an interview this week, he urged parent leaders to consider introducing themselves to the editor of their local paper, or inviting the radio station manager out for coffee. Developing that type of relationship will foster greater opportunities for parents to have a voice in education issues.
PACs and DPACs should be active on social media as well, MacLachlan said in an interview. But unlike larger organizations, they shouldn’t feel compelled to post something every day.
He summed up his advice for local parent leaders this way: “Watch your media, be aware of what’s going on, be aware of what’s being said on social media, be aware of what’s being said in your local newspaper or your local radio or TV station. Keep an eye on these things . . . and respond as appropriate.
“Also, if you’ve got good news to spread, go tell it on the mountain. Spread it out there.”
He warned parents to be careful in responding to negative comments on social media. Correct erroneous information from critics quickly, but “don’t waste your time yelling and shouting at people whose minds you’re never going to change and whose hearts you’re never going to win,” he added.
His advice for organizations that want to be regarded as a consistent and reliable news source was to always be prepared. Monitor media constantly and be ready 24-7 to speak to reporters. Think hard about your message. What do you want to say? What do you not want to say? What questions can you expect?
“If you want to establish yourself as a reliable news source. . . know your material, get it out there and keep getting it out there.”
MacLachlan was adamant when asked about a story that circulated on Twitter earlier this year suggesting news releases are dead. “No, they are absolutely not dead,” he said, adding that he’s discussed this many times with members of the media and is satisfied they still serve a purpose.
But they must be short, clean and crisp, he added.
MacLachlan had a lengthy career in media and public relations before launching his own company, Clarity Communications. He was director of communications at The Vancouver Sun when I began working there in the late 1990s and he’s also been director of public relations for Fraser Health and, more recently, director of public affairs and media relations at SFU. Find more of his media tips here.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and do not speak for the organization.