you’re the voice: make it clear, make it understood

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You’re the voice: make it clear, make it understood. Anna Payton, Marketing Officer, NCVER. You’re the voice of your research. no one knows your work better than you, but . your message must be clear and easily understood. Why use the media?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Youre the voice: make it clear, make it understood

Youre the voice: make it clear, make it understoodAnna Payton, Marketing Officer, NCVERWelcome

Im Anna Payton, Marketing Officer at the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

This presentation provides an overview of the considerations and decisions collectively we make at NCVER in our efforts to promote research to journalists across the country.

Before I get underway, Id like to get a feel for how much experience you have had with the media. How many of you have approached the media with a possible story? How many have you been interviewed by a journalist?

I think my presentation will either provide some valuable advice for those wanting to start developing stories for the media or reinforces your knowledge and your experience so far with the media.


Youre the voice of your researchno one knows your work better than you, but ...your message must be clear and easily understoodYou, as a researcher, are the voice of your research; no one knows your work better or more than you do. So, it would stand to reason that youd be the best person to talk about it and what it means. But, does it? In most cases, yes, I do think researchers are best placed to talk about their work, provided they can clearly articulate their research from other perspectives from others peoples shoes as it were.

In this presentation, I explore getting the message of your research out through the media, be it the mainstream or traditional media as newspapers, radio and television are now referred to, specialist and trade press which includes sectoral newspapers, magazines, journals or newsletters, and digital media, such as The Conversation.

Increasingly, researchers are being asked to discuss their work. Today, there is an expectation, if not a requirement, that researchers will actively communicate their work widely to a varied and wide range of audiences. One effective way to reach these groups is to use the media.

2Why use the media?

but its agenda isnt always the same as yoursit can be a vital allySo why use the media? Weve all heard of stories about pitches to journalists not going as planned or research being misrepresented. But, when it goes well, it can be the difference to your research being seen, read and discussed by many more people than would otherwise be the case without coverage.

Quite simply, the media in all its forms can be a vital ally in communicating your work. The reach of the mainstream and digital media, which often caters to specific niche audiences, is astounding as millions of people from all over Australia read, listen, watch or download stories each and every day. However its important to be aware that, more often than not, its agenda and yours will not be the same.

3Spoilt for choice

1500 to 2000 emails weekly for 50 to 60 stories HES, The Australianand getting coverage of VET stories harder than stories on schools and universitiesnews values -impacttimelinessprominenceproximitynoveltyconflictcurrencyhuman interestIts behaviour is driven in part because its highly competitive and the tyranny of deadlines.

The mainstream and a good slice of digital media is a hungry beast, constantly looking for content for articles, interviews and footage to be published across various platforms. But its spoilt for choice, making the industry highly competitive.

Looking specifically at education stories in the press, John Ross, who regularly covers vocational education and training (VET) stories in the Higher Education section for The Australian, estimates he get at least 50 emails a day, the majority of which are pitching a story. He estimates further that between him, his colleagues and the higher education news email account they receive at least 1500 to 2000 emails a week all vying for somewhere between 50 to 60 stories a week [press enter].

The majority of these articles (over two-thirds) are published in the online editions of the paper, with the remaining one third published in the weekly printed edition of Higher Education supplement. And this is just one specialist section of the paper. In the general news room of all the major newspapers and radio and television stations, its harder to quantify because of the overwhelming volume of incoming information. Its from within this deluge that you are trying to cut through and draw attention to your research. The lifting gets significantly heavier when stories about education are up against topics like politics, the economy, environment and health.

When education stories do make the general news, theyre usually focused on schools followed by universities. The reality is that getting the media interested in a story on vocational education and training often requires a lot of work. VET stories often get a better run they are pushed in the right direction with the right journalist. For example, at NCVER we target career editors for stories on outcomes/benefits of training.I dont wish to be discouraging about the likelihood of getting attention for VET stories attention in the mainstream media; rather, I think we should acknowledge the position from which we start. In comparison, sectoral press like Campus Review and those newsletters or journals, such as AVETRA News or newsletters published by the Industry Skills Councils, state/territory training departments, peak bodies like TAFE Directors Australia or ACPET, offer greater opportunities for coverage, as they operate in a less competitive environment. Nevertheless, its wise to consider the same criteria when approaching VET sector newsletters and journals as you would when pitching a story to mainstream media.So, what can we do to improve our chances with the mainstream and digital media? Before diving in, stand back and have a good hard look at the research and consider its newsworthiness. Effectively you have to view your research from the journalists perspective. Says Ross, The most important thing is be realistic; does this story have media appeal at all. If so, with whom?.

Stories that get journalists attention are based on a set of news values. These values are: impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, novelty, conflict, currency and human interest. The ones that have the most relevance to VET research stories are conflict (like stories about competing agendas, such as the Gonski Reviews recommendation for more funding for schools, but a government determined to balance the budget), impact (the significance, importance or consequence of an event or trend the recent push by unions to increase apprentices wages as a way to keep people in training), proximity (stories that focus on VET in local areas), timeliness (a current event which you can add to based on your expertise) and novelty (the stories with difference, such as the media coverage of research that explored the training opportunities in mens sheds). Ultimately success depends on having a story that resonates with an audience, and speaks to them.


your target audiences are the end-users of media and the media itselfYour audience is your top priority they are, after all, those you want to engage or influence. But in reaching them, your other audience is the media.

Indeed, your choice of media should be based on the audience you want to communicate with. This is where you need to choose carefully to maximise your chance of coverage and reduce the likelihood of the misrepresentation of your work. You also need to be mindful of maintaining your credibility with journalists.

5Targeting your audience & media

strong personal angle general newslabour market stories career sectionsstories with a policy focus HES, The Conversation, APOsocial policy/education stories appeal to Life Matters on ABC National RadioIn the handouts Ive provided a few examples of the different approaches for different audiences. Stories with a strong personal angle, like the wages of apprentices and trainees, finds traction in the general news section of newspapers, radio news and sometimes television news. This story also played on the news value of impact the actual wages of apprentices and by including the attrition rate of trade apprentices. And, it certainly worked well raise the profile of this issue for the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.

This story ran in newspapers (print and online editions) many featuring a case study and picture, on radio and on television a rare occurrence with a story on The Project. Realising this story would generate interest, the clever people at RMIT issued a media release offering an expert for comment, an excellent example of harnessing the timeliness news value. The following day, an opinion piece by him was published on The Conversation and Business Spectator.

While my list doesnt include all the media coverage this story received, it does give you an indication of the amount of coverage it generated. A quick look of the headlines also reveals the different angles/lines taken by different media organisations based on the same story -- as I said earlier, the medias agenda will not always be the same as yours.

Research that focuses on labour market outcomes or skill development has a natural fit with the career sections of capital city daily newspapers. At NCVER, as you can see from the example, we target stories about changing training needs to career editors, as well stories about what people are studying, their outcomes and apprentice and trainee data, to name just a few.

Research that examines policy issues is more likely to be of interest to journalists at The Australian and the editors of The Conversatio