After the Webinar: Breaking through the Media. Q&A with Jeremy Warnick

Webinar presenter Jeremy Warnick answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Breaking through the Media: Time Tested and New Strategies to Secure Positive News Coverage. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: What about the intersection of social media and local media? Is it ever appropriate to tag local reporters or media outlets on our posts? 

Jeremy Warnick: So that’s something I have seen some organizations do. Again, I think I would treat that almost like an exclusive in which if you tag one reporter or one outlet, say the local ABC affiliate, but you don’t tag the Fox, the CBS, the NBC affiliate, that could potentially create some issues with your relationships with those outlets. So just being really mindful of that. My kind of MO is either tag everybody, or don’t tag anyone at all.


Audience Question: Speaking of exclusives, next question. When pitching a story, if one reporter takes you up on your offer, should we continue to reach out to other media outlets with that same pitch? 

Jeremy Warnick: Yeah, and that’s where I would stop the pitching to others, and really focus all your energies on that reporter that has taken you up on the offer and do everything you possibly can to support them and ensure that they’re going to do the best story they possibly can.


Audience Question: Do you ever contact local cable access stations? 

Jeremy Warnick: So that’s a really good point, and something I didn’t highlight, but it is a valued point and especially thinking about, you know, what their audience is. We know here in Cambridge that our local cable access, it’s something that is played in and around our city council meetings. So, for those that are not able to attend City Hall in person, they may be catching some of that content before and after the city council meetings. And in other cases, we know that it’s free content, it’s not something that our elderly population needs to pay cable for. And they may be just interested in knowing what’s going on in the city and may watch it for quite some time. So, if we have specific messages in our case here in Cambridge, because we know what the audience is, it’s more of our elderly population. We’ll gear messages for that population with local cable access.


Audience Question: At what point should our chief be the person in front of the camera? Are there any particular criteria that you look for? 

Jeremy Warnick: That’s a great question as well. I mean, I think first and foremost, especially TV, they’re always going to want to talk to the lead person in the organization. But the reality is, especially for those that are larger departments, that may not always be a good fit, or may not be possible based on their time their time frame, and what they’re looking to do. TV is, oftentimes, we’ll get a one hour lead time on, “Hey, we’re going to be heading over to your station. Can we speak to the chief? Can we speak to the commissioner?” And that’s often not going to be something that she’s going to be able to accommodate. So, what I tell them is, “Listen, worst-case scenario, you can talk to me as a Civilian and Director of Comms or I will want to try to get the subject matter expert who deals with this information,” Whether it’s the detective, whether it’s the person that responded to the scene first, give them opportunities as much as possible. And for the most part, TV news is going to understand that and be receptive to that because they just want, they want to be able to balance their story. They want to be able to get some perspective from the police station, from the Police Department, and then maybe someone that was on the scene of the situation. And a third person to kind of fill the void. And, if we don’t provide that, like I said earlier, they’re going to fill it with others.


Audience Question: In addition to the layoffs and increased number of beats that reporters cover, is it true that reporters are also required to build interest in their story by sharing them on social media? 

Jeremy Warnick: So that really is, I would say from the conversations I’ve had with the reporters here in the Boston market, that is more of a case by case basis. I know that what the new reporters are doing to kind of establish themselves in the market, is to go very heavy on social media. So, whenever they do a story, whenever they’re looking to get interest in a story, looking for different perspectives, they’ll be leaning on social media to put that out, or like I said, market it, promote their own work. Whereas the more veterans reporters’ may not do that as much? Maybe that’s their own personal preference, but there are at least two stations that I’m aware of here in the Boston market that are incredibly, strongly encouraging their reporters maximize their social media channels as much as possible, because that’s only going to lead to more traction back to their respective websites. And oftentimes some of these more established reporters, in particular, have followings that could be in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands.


Audience Question: What is data journalism? 

Jeremy Warnick: Yeah, so data journalism is really thinking about… I would say there was a story that was done last week here in the greater Boston market about traffic crashes involving pedestrians. So, kind of the form of that, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the flourish chart. But a flourish chart shows the evolution of different trends and patterns. So, what we’re seeing here in the Boston market, is that more and more journalists are using things like flourish charts to show things spiking, declining. You see it a lot with real estate based stories, you see it with stock market based stories. But again, you can apply it to almost every industry. And we’ve seen it in the policing side with things like traffic crashes, upticks in different crimes. So, they’re incorporating those charts, those workflows, right into their stories themselves, if not in the news side, both in the news and on the TV side, the broadcast side. Because they’re compelling graphics, they’re showing truly what the trend is, and taking it beyond words, to reflect the data that’s associated with a story.


Audience Question: We work in a suburb of a major metropolitan area. So how should we prioritize outreach to our smallish local media versus those within the adjacent major market? 

Jeremy Warnick: Yeah, as I mentioned, my first commitment when I started here, and you’ll see that in one of the two handouts is focused on the local first. There’s always going to be interest in the broader level, in the bigger stories. But start to plant the seed the little stories to the local markets as much as possible early on, especially if you’re just starting out. Develop that rapport and you’re going to be able to, I think, then take that to the next level in terms of some of the bigger stories that you’re able, maybe not able to tell yourself, or you’re looking to be told elsewhere by these local sources that are being read and viewed by your local community.


Audience Question: What is the flourish chart? So, if I remember correctly, the ones that I’ve seen most often are, they have different-sized bubbles based on the topic, and the larger bubbles indicate more clicks, more interest on that topic. Is that what you meant by those are my totally misunderstanding flourish chart? 

Jeremy Warnick: It’s along those lines, It’s really more of an interactive chart that’s being fed by data that’s already distributed to, say, the media outlet. So, like I said, we’ll take our traffic crashes over the last 10 years and do it by year. And then a viewer, or the reporter can actually, hover over each of those years and see and play with how it breaks down, maybe at the day level, at the week level. So, it’s a very interactive graphic that’s all based on data.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Breaking through the Media: Time Tested and New Strategies to Secure Positive News Coverage. 


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