February 2009

Winter Chill Takes Hold of Local Media

It’s February in Atlanta, so what we should expect from local media coverage? First, lots of TV live shots with very cold reporters out on frozen highway overpasses. Unfortunately, bad weather provides TV news with some its best ratings, and local weather coverage ranges wildly. It’s very interesting to watch one station talk about potential blizzard conditions while another downplays potential snowfall altogether.

The other thing we’ll see this month is an overflow of circuses. For some reason, every circus in the country comes to Atlanta in February. Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Brothers, the UniverSoul Circus, and the Big Apple Circus, all hit town within weeks of each other. Seems like it’d be smarter to spread them out a little, but what do I know? By the end of the month, we’ll have our fill of stories about strange animals, clowns and acrobats, but it’ll keep a lot of reporters busy for a few weeks!

Moves & News

Atlanta Journal-Constitution – David Markiewicz has a new weekly business column, “Networking,” focusing on businesspeople and deals around the city, partnerships, and new entrepreneurial ventures. The paper has also launched a new weekly entertainment section called “Go Guide” on Fridays, replacing the Living section.  It’s all about dining, music, movies and entertainment, plus comics, puzzles and TV grid.  Finally, they’ve launched a Sunday feature called “Spotlight,” looking at information affecting your health, safety or pocketbook.

Beacon – The Beacon will soon begin publishing a Sunday edition.  The publisher says the AJC’s withdrawal from North Fulton has created a void that they are filling.

Creative Loafing – CL has filed for Chapter 11 protection. It’s still publishing and will likely continue as is for the foreseeable future.

GoDekalb.com – Congrats to GoDekalb.com, celebrating its fourth anniversary with the launch of a new monthly video show and channel.

WGCL – News Director Steve Schwaid says the station’s Better Mornings show will soon debut a segment on “Cool Businesses.”  That’s a working title, but the segment will be a live segment on the show, hosted and produced by reporter Sarah (call me Parker) Parker. More details on that coming soon. Schwaid reports that the station is make great strides in boosting its ratings overall.

WXIA – Ellen Crooke from Buffalo has taken over as news director from Cal Callaway, who moves into a news operations role.

We’ve talked before about how important it is if you’re pitching media that you understand how the media works, from deadlines to styles to content. As a spokesperson for a company that’s important as well, but more important is having an understanding how you fit into the news.

Are you the kind of subject matter expert who will be the lead of a story, or a short quote? Are you important enough that someone would want to write a story about you?

You as a spokesperson also need to have a feel for what’s driving each story. Just because you’ve got a product or service that you think is fascinating doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to be the focus of every story.

Preparation – It sounds strange to say, but the most important part of an interview isn’t really the time when you’re on camera. It’s the time leading up to the interview that’s most vital. The worst thing you can do on the day of an interview is “wing it.”

Comfort Level – It’s very important that you’re comfortable, confident and excited during your interview. I always tell my clients that if they don’t sound excited about what you’re talking about, there’s little chance the reporter will be.

Effective Interviews – When you’re doing an interview, remember that there’s a purpose to it. You’re trying to sell a product, get people to buy a service, or become interested in an issue. Stay focused and don’t let yourself get distracted into tangential conversations that use up your time but stray from your message.


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