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Media Training: Producing your story

  April 27, 2024

You have a story to tell.  But how do you get your message across to your audience?  Start thinking like a TV producer even if you aren't preparing for a TV interview.  As a long-time TV news producer, here are some of my basics:

  • Think visuals.  The old adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words' is truer today than ever.  
  • Remember the 5 W's: who, what, when, where, and why.  Plus, how. Every story may not answer them all, but it should include as many as possible.
  • It's easy to tell a long story.  A short, concise one is more likely to hold your audience's attention.  Most of us are multitaskers and when we consume news or any story, we only hold on to a couple of points.  Emphasize the big things; skip the minutiae.

When a TV news outlet is interested in your story, the reporter or producer will visualize the story. Of course they'll want interviews but they need more.  The crew will shoot "b-roll" which could be you interacting with customers or employees, you helping out in your community, or anything that demonstrates what is unique about you and your story.  If you have good ideas for visuals offer them up.  Most broadcast journalists will be happy for the assist.

If you are sharing your story on social media, you are in essence your own producer.  Just like the pros, you'll want compelling visuals to aid your story-telling.  You'll need to consider your background/location carefully.  Does it add or distract from your story?  And just because you can make your story as long as you like, it doesn't mean you should.  Just like with broadcast stories, website videos and social media post videos work best when they are short and on-point.  If you have a complex story and are anxious for your potential audience to learn more, consider a series of videos.  Leave them wanting more at the end of each piece.  Tease what is ahead.

It's not unusual for stories on social media platforms to find their way to broadcast journalists.  Producers are constantly on the look out for fresh stories that their broadcast viewers can relate to.  It doesn't have to be big news.  It could be something quirky or a story that tugs at the heart; little slices of life that peak a producer's interest.  A hard-sell video of you talking about your latest product (no matter how great it is) won't sell to a news producer or editor.  But what if, for example, yours is a family-run business that is marking a big anniversary by doing something very special for your community?  It's not earth shattering news, but a community newspaper may be interested.  A short piece with a photo certainly wouldn't hurt your business or employee morale. Or, a local morning newscast may have a place for a short, feel-good story.  

If you need help getting started, turn to a media trainer with journalism experience. Once you get comfortable crafting your stories, build your presence on social media.  Traditional media coverage could follow.  

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