Media work in the project
The five principles of media relations in the project
- How is the project relevant to society?
- What contribution can this project make?
- How do I as a project manager stand by my project?
Everything that is published about the project must be compatible with the five principles of media relations.
1. Consider the interests of the target group(s) of your project.
2. Create a project vision (i.e., mission statement) for your project.
3. Create a project identity (i.e., a self-image of the project and its desired internal and external impact).
4. Define a project design and external presentation (logo, font, etc.).
5. Work on the positive image of the project.
These five principles form the framework for project-related media work, which can now be filled in.
Identify target groups and their interests
Anyone who follows the public discourse on the project topic can quickly see
- In which media the field and the environment of the project appear.
- Which editorial offices publish about it.
Print and online media
The contact addresses of the editorial offices concerned or - even better - of the editor who publishes on the project's field can be found in the imprint of these media.
Radio / TV
Check the station's website to find out who is responsible for the programme. Media libraries make it easy to check what has already been broadcast on radio or TV about the environment or a similar project. The next step is to contact the authors of the relevant programmes.
Local TV and local radio
The easiest way is to call the secretariat of the local station directly and ask for the office or person responsible for the project area.
The media must be informed that there are exciting things to report about the project and its results, and that they can contribute or be interviewed.
Action and timing vs. reaction and attention
From the world of project management
A serious accident occurs during a trial in a product development project and a team member is killed. The project manager has to write press releases, be available for interviews and give a eulogy at the funeral service, which is published in the local section of the daily newspaper.
So media work does not mean writing a press release every few weeks. Responding to the unexpected can only be planned to a very limited extent. It requires constant attention to current events, both internal and external, readiness, good responsiveness, continuity and good contacts with journalists.
For all forms of appearance, whether it is a short statement, a long interview or an in-depth talk show interview, the project manager needs to consider which roles they might be interviewed in and which role they would like to appear in. They can also choose between different roles during the interview. A technical expert who brings their personality to the table will have a stronger impact than a dispassionate reporter of facts. A project manager who is questioned critically will be more convincing if they can also show their own commitment.
It is important for the project manager to be able to distinguish between statements and answers on project-related issues and those with a political background. It is also important for the project manager to be able to distinguish between statements and answers that are project-related and those that have a political background. If they doubt whether the project or its environment is affected at all, they can refrain from answering. If they are not sure, they can always say so, because it is better to say nothing than to say something wrong.
When dealing with media enquiries, the press office will consider whether the medium is reputable and promotes the company's reputation. It also checks whether the medium is technically and journalistically competent and reaches the relevant target groups.
In some cases, the media is willing to give the company the opportunity to review the prepared article before publication. However, there is no legal right to do so. Only verbatim quotes must be submitted for approval.
To keep the media interested, it is advisable to issue press releases several times a year, but only on important topics. Otherwise, interest can quickly wane.
It is a good idea to get regular feedback from journalists on the quality and relevance of press releases. An open exchange will help to optimise the information content, length and frequency of releases.
It is important that a press release is accurate and concise. One page should be enough to convey the most important information. A short but catchy headline is important to grab the reader's attention. The lead should answer the five important questions (who, what, when, where, how) to provide a quick overview. It should also identify the contact person and the person responsible in terms of press law. This ensures clear and transparent communication. It goes without saying that press releases should be sent to the media in good time so that they can be published as soon as possible. As a general rule, the more concise the wording, the less likely it is to be misinterpreted. The art is to get the information to the point without sacrificing clarity and precision.
Press distribution list
1. Before sending out any press release, it is essential to check that the contact details are correct and up to date.
2. Quality over quantity: It is advisable to select a manageable number of recipients, but to target the right groups. This will ensure a targeted and effective approach.
3. Regular updating: the press mailing list should be reviewed every six months to ensure that the addressees' preferred communication channels are still up to date.
4. Personalised greetings: to make journalists feel that they are being well looked after by your company, one or two personalised sentences tailored to the recipient are often enough.
Be especially careful with email attachments and the recipient's privacy. Many journalists reject email attachments because they cannot be opened in some editorial networks, are cumbersome to handle and pose a potential virus risk. It is best to clarify with the relevant contact how they would like to receive the press release. To protect journalists' privacy, it is advisable to either send messages individually or to send the message to the group of recipients as a blind copy to prevent all recipients from seeing the distribution list.
Traditional storytelling is a powerful way to capture the interest of stakeholders, media editors and many others. Communicating facts, but also emotions, must be the focus of the project manager in order to lead the project as a convincing leader. It is not about painting pictures on the wall in the sense of colourful projections, but about creating images in people's minds. Not every story has to be as long as the epic "The Lord of the Rings".