“Thanks so much Niall, so informative! Giving me inspiration for some local stories to pitch!”
City of Sanctuary groups appreciated the media training session from Niall Mann, Regional Communications Manager from IMIX, which is an expert communications organisation providing support to our sector. Please see the PPT slides and the full recording of the event. The notes below are skeletal and the discussions and detail in the recording are a useful resource.
Negative attitudes to migration and people seeking sanctuary is driven by the media, which is why it is so important for us to counteract these with our many positive stories of human connection, welcoming activities and the contribution of people seeking sanctuary to our communities.
Our stories and images can have a greater impact than the facts and figures and dehumanising rhetoric that we so often hear. Mythbusting often leaves people remembering the myth. Stories about real people, with whom one can relate to, have a more lasting impact. Key issues for us to consider include our purpose for telling a story and safeguarding and noting that once on the internet it is difficult to remove so we need to protect anonymity where necessary.
Pitching your story
Consider various local media outlets including community press, local radio and regional TV and also the value of niche magazines in getting coverage. Good stories in local newspapers can be picked up and shared nationally.
Use and power of images – does your story have a photo opportunity? Remember safeguarding. (See also the Notes of the Media Interview Training.
We have unique stories to tell and this is a key part of our pitch, our activities often hook people in with the human connection. Use of language is key – rather than referring to asylum seeker we need to describe people in terms of who they are to resonate with local communities – father, sister, mother, son etc. link into shared values, emotions, history – something in common with your audience.
Can you hook your story to a key event ( World Cup, Black History month, LGBT Pride) or is it about the first school / church / library of sanctuary in your city / region? Ge in touch early.
Keep it Simple
Avoid Jargon – who knows what ESOL is? Avoid acronyms and don’t make assumptions about journalists knowledge – you are the expert, use the opportunity to educate them.
Build Relationships with friendly journalists- Find your dedicated community reporter who focuses on marginalised groups.
These are more detailed with contact for interviews, some key quotes and provide the when, wheat, how, why and where. Compare with a pitch – which is a couple of sentences providing essential info and a hook.
Use the City of Sanctuary Communications Manager –
There are resources on the City of Sanctuary website including a Guide to Communications and a Guide to the Use of Language as well as and contact details for support. City of Sanctuary UK is building a database for friendly journalists by region so tell us about yours.