Getting your story on TV or radio is not as hard as climbing Mount Everest. But it will take some determination and effort.
Media coverage shows people that you are serious and passionate about your cause. Television and radio sends your voice out into the world. It's an excellent way to reach lots of people and promote an event, publicise an issue and find people to support your cause.
When you're not prepared, it's easy to make a mistake on TV and radio. So you need to know how to manage the media and make the best of any opportunity.
Lights, camera, action: you're on TV
It's not as glamorous as the movies but being on TV still makes you feel a little bit famous. Thousands, potentially millions, of people will see and hear your message. But you'll probably have less than a minute to get that message across.
Pitch your story
Don't rely on being in the right place at the right time. Just like press releases sent to newspapers, video news releases (VNRs) or electronic press releases (EPRs) can be sent to television stations. VNRs include video material, background footage and interviews that tell your story.
Sometimes community-run stations will run your story straight from the VNR. But usually VNRs make it easier for the journalist to collect footage and increase the chance of your story getting a run. Greenpeace successfully created VNRs on the Japanese whaling in the Antarctic in Dec 1999 - Jan 2000.
You can also pitch your story directly to a TV news producer or documentary producer. Keep your pitch to two paragraphs. Explain the issue or event, your role and why the public would be interested.
Invite the press to your event as part of your promotion strategy.
Tips for the cameras
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Keep your message simple
- Speak in everyday language and don't use jargon or acronyms
- Structure your main points into 5-10 second sound bites
- Be creative in how you are going to communicate your message
- Avoid wearing head-to-toe black
On the air waves
Radio also reaches a huge audience, but there's the chance you'll be misinterpreted or misrepresented. Prepare your message carefully and you'll stay focussed and clear.
Have your say on the air waves by calling up a talkback segment or as an invited guest on a specific show.
Appear as a special guest
To be a guest on a radio show, you have to ring the producer before the show, but not while it's on air! Outline your story and ask if there is any interest in an interview. You can usually get a producer's name and phone number from the internet or ring the radio station's switchboard.
Tips for talkback
- Write down the phone number.
- Prepare three key points to cover.
- Turn your radio off because the signal causes interference.
- Be clear, concise and polite.
- Use everyday language.
- Avoid using repetitive words such as 'like', 'clearly' and 'you know'.
- Provide practical information (for example, when the next event is or a website address).
- The average time for a talk back caller is 60 seconds.
Remember that the presenter is always in control. They can cut you off at anytime and turn your microphone off. So keep to the topic and keep your message short and sweet.
Don't rely on the mainstream: Do-it-yourself
Why not start your own regular radio show? You control the airwaves, say what you want to say (within the codes of the radio station) and play the music that you want to play.
Most community radio stations rely on volunteers and welcome new faces. A list of all the community radio stations in Victoria can be found at the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. Most radio stations run on a weekly or fortnightly roster. For example, you could have a one hour radio show once a week or every fortnight.
To get your face on the telly, get involved in the not-for-profit community television station Channel 31. It broadcasts locally-based entertainment, education and information to Melbourne, Geelong and surrounding suburbs. Every month, 1.3 million people watch Channel 31 and it has 90 new locally made programs every week.
Chanel 31 welcomes all ideas for new programs. You can get involved with Channel 31 by producing your own television show or submitting five minute programs to Bite Size. Before submitting any ideas or work read the Channel 31 Program Proposal Kit (new window). Send Bite Size programs in DVD format and include a 100 word synopsis to:
Bite Size, C31 Melbourne,
Level 1, 501 Swanston St
Melbourne 3000 VIC