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Media Relations Training: COSATU

Media Relations Training: COSATU

The Media Relations Programme held at COSATU Head office was a Training course structured for COSATU Leaders based on the principles of Media Relations.

The training aimed to equip delegates with the necessary tools to enable them to communicate effectively within the media landscape.

The course covered:

• The context and objectives of media plans

• Multi media interview techniques

• Delivering concise media messages

• Media briefings

• Handling crisis communication

• On- camera training

• News release for print/online media

• Social media tips- the do’s and don’ts

• Repurposing releases for other media

Ten general pointers from the COSATU media workshop.

1. Carefully analyse the coverage you get. Watch for "separation and uniting" where your messages are deconstructed to separate the truth from what is actually reported. Always answer and put right a falsely reconstructed communication.

2. Monitor the media - all media - for immediate coverage and long-term patterns. Analyse and use the lessons to improve your overall strategy in dealing with media. Do a quarterly media analysis report. Identify media and journalists who take you seriously and engage with them even if they are on the other side of the fence.

3. Recognise media ecology. There are many species of communicators out there, not all formally working as journalists. Bloggers, tweeters, Podcasters and Instagrammers, all shape the "opinion environment" surrounding you. Reach out into these populations in the media habitat. Start your own opinion media. Realize that media are constantly evolving and you must evolve with them.

4. Go global. International news media strongly influence local perceptions. These media are evolving fast with strong reporting and insightful opinion. They have a "long tail" into every country and they shape investor perceptions. For example, COSATU's stance against corruption needs international coverage.

5. Refine your messaging at the executive level by practicing sound bites. Use freewriting to clarify your thinking and mind mapping to construct the full argument. Rehearse key interviews beforehand if you can get the chance to do so.

6. Combine research into events and issues with high level discussion by a brain trust drawn from your membership. The research should be ongoing and delivered daily as a briefing. The brains trust is needed for crisis situations and major policy initiatives that are communicated to media. Think strategy, not just reaction to news.

7. Work smarter not harder to sharpen all your communication processes. Examine your current effectiveness and do a needs analysis to plug gaps and enhance performance. Use what you have, don't spend money on new staffing or consultants if you can work in house.

8. Communicate throughout the organisation to get buy-in from all affiliates. Manage by walking around and getting to know people on the ground. You will need them in a crisis but you need to build up trust over the long term through regular contacts.

9. Above all develop your credibility as an organisation by firmly espousing honest values and clarifying your stance. Make clear your role as the representative of affiliates in every sector of the economy and that you serve them as members of the working class as a whole.

10. And lastly be a "news factory" that turns out stories not just in response to events but as a picture of what is going on in your ranks and in society. Create a credibility aura around COSATU making you the go-to news center when journalists are looking for insight.

- Regards Prof Graeme Addison

This is what the leaders had to say about what they are taking from the Training:

“What I am taking from this workshop is:

1. The importance of team work when dealing with the media, particularly as an influential Organisation, that represents the leading voice for the working people of SA.

2. The media space has become fluid and very filtrated, so it is important to communicate effectively and to the point - leaving little room to be misinterpreted.

3. Preparation for interviews cannot be overemphasized

4. As personnel representing “brand COSATU”, it is important to familiarize oneself with all the key positions taken by the Federation (as they evolve), and be prepared to defend and speak on them at any given point.” – Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni

“What I'm taking from this workshop today is technic on how to respond to crises or misinformation in the media, how to respond to negative reporting, concise response, the importance of brainstorming organisational response ecology of media meaning of rifle and shot gun response Interview techniques” - Thabo Mahlangu

“What I am taking from this workshop today is:

1. The do and the don’t

2. The importance of communication

3. That the media is now global

4. Different media forum particularly the new ones, not mainstream.

5. Avoiding the paralysis by analysis; too many cooks and dedicated personnel.

6. Formalized approach to media - emergency operation mechanism

7. Dealing with media should be considered as dealing with a crisis.

8. Building allies particularly those that are not thinking like you but those with sound knowledge of subjects

9. The important understanding of the 7 Ps

10. Proper communicating is a simple and shorter version

11. Expression of sympathy for human beings

12. How to deal and behave in an interview particularly the TV interviews including no panic, take your time, be aware of traps, take time to answer questions, be not shy to refer and promise to come back”- Bheki Ntshalintshali

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