Media Relations Workshop

July 14, 2011 - July 15, 2011
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The Media Diversity Inistitute (MDI) is to hold a workshop on media relations with 15 Civil Society Organisations from Eastern European countries to improve their capacities to defend the right to freedom of expression and promote media diversity. Experienced trainers and BBC journalists,Tim Grout-Smith and Lily Poberezhska, will be leading the team and provide them with hands-on practice during the course of the workshop.

The workshop is part of the 18-month campaign led by the International/European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) to improve media coverage on ethnicity, race and religion.

Aims and Objectives

To build CSOs’ capacity to communicate their messages through the media by:

  • improving their understanding of how the media work and what makes a good news story
  • developing/improving their skills in using the main tools for communicating with the media
  • training them in message development

Expected Results

By the end of the workshop the participants are expected to:

  • be able to confidently identify newsworthy stories in their work and to ‘sell’ them to different media outlets
  • be aware of the wide range of tools for communicating with the media and their applications (websites, press-kits, social media such as Twitter & Facebook, press-conferences, and events etc)
  • be able to write eye-catching press-announcements and press-releases
  • be able to give live TV interviews
  • be able to develop messages for presentations/interviews/media campaigns
  • be able to develop ideas for a media strategy and campaign


Practical and interactive:

  • a wide use of examples and references to trainees’ experience to elicit teaching points
  • practical exercises in each session to reinforce acquired skills

Handouts (checklists and tips)

  • What the media wants
  • Tools for communicating with the media
  • Tips on press releases
  • Suggested layout for a press-release
  • Tips on being interviewed
  • Contacting journalists
  • How to organize a press-conference
  • What makes a good website
  • Message development
  • Body language




9:15 – 9:30 Registration 9.30 – 9.45 Welcome ‘The Media Diversity Institute and the Ethical Journalism Initiative Project’ Milica Pesic, Executive Director, The Media Diversity Institute

9.45 – 11.00 Session 1 Introductions Trainers introduce the workshop’s aims and agenda. How the media work: learn to think like a journalist! What makes a good news story? Types of media coverage (‘hard’ and ‘soft’ news). What’s in it for them: what can CSOs offer the media?

Exercise preparation : identifying 2 newsworthy stories (‘hard’ and ‘soft’/feature) from the participants’ recent work (trainees work in groups)

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee/Tea break 11.30 – 13.00 Session 2 Exercise: groups report back (present their news stories and explain why they meet the newsworthiness criteria). Discussion and feedback Your press-office: organisation and resources. How to develop contacts with the media. If you have a breaking news story: who would you contact and how? Structure and specifics of different media outlets (TV, radio, press etc). Tips on ‘cold-calling’ journalists (contacting them with a breaking news story)

Exercise preparation: Identify a hard news story from your work and prepare to ‘sell’ it to journalist ON THE PHONE in 3 minutes (trainees work in groups) 13.00 – 14.00

Lunch 14.00 – 15.30

Session 3 Exercise (A trainer acts as a journalist), discussion and feedback Tools for communicating with the media (brief overview, with greater emphasis on websites, press kits and press-conferences + handouts) An effective press release: structure, content and style (tips based on illustrations and examples). The difference between Press release and Press announcement. Participants and trainers discuss and give feedback on press-releases by trainees’ CSOs sent to organisers/trainers in advance of the workshop

15.30 – 15.45 Coffee/Tea break 15.45 – 17.30 Session 4 Exercise: participants work in groups to write Press-announcements and Press-releases for an event of their choosing (press-conference, award ceremony etc) Groups report back, discussion and feedback 18.30 Group Dinner Giraffe Restaurant, Brunswick Shopping Centre, Russell Square


9.30 – 11.00 Session 1 Message development. How to develop and frame messages for different audiences using the Message Development Template. What makes a good message?

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee/Tea break 11.15 – 13.00 Session 2 Exercise in groups: using the message development template, develop messages for TV or radio interviews on a certain topic. Groups report back, discussion and feedback.

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch 14.00 – 15.30 Session 4 Interviews on TV and Radio: preparation, tips including Body Language. Staying ‘on message’ and dealing with difficult or hostile questions.

Preparation for an exercise: a 3-minute live TV interview

15. 30 – 15.45 Coffee/Tea break 15.45 – 17.30 Session 4 Exercise: A 3-minute live TV interview (trainers act as cameraman and TV journalist) Playback, discussion.

17.30 – 18:15 Session 5 Follow up consultancy work


Trainers' Profiles

Tim Grout-Smith is a graduate of Oxford University with 26 years' BBC experience. He began his career as a cadet journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Sydney, then returned to the UK to work in the newsroom of BBC World Service. He has reported for the BBC from more than thirty countries, including reporting from the Rio Earth Summit, and won international awards for his work in 1987 and 2001.

In 1992 he took up the post of Project Director with the newly-formed BBC Marshall Plan of the Mind (now the World Service Trust, the largest specialised media development organisation in the world). This resulted in many programme series on Russian and Ukrainian state radio and television, as well as many independent stations there and in other countries.

Tim also compiled training videos, set up international media festivals, advised governments on public service advertising and lectured on environmental journalism at universities in eleven countries. Fluent in French, with some German and Russian, he has been an independent consultant since 2001, working on a variety of projects from Macedonia to Malaysia for funders like the EU, DFID and the World Bank.

Over the last 10 years with Media Players International, Tim trained a wide variety of organisations, from international institutions like the International Atomic Energy Agency and international companies to NGOs across the Caucasus and Ukraine in PR and media skills. In the UK, he is helping local councils, companies, NHS bodies and university academics and researchers to get their message across through the media.

Lily Poberezhska is a London-based graduate of Kiev State University, a teacher, journalist, media trainer and consultant. She worked for nine years for the BBC World Service, and has a diploma from the London School of Public Relations. Widespread experience in use of the media for education and awareness-raising includes work for the World Bank, the EU and the British government in aid projects across the former Soviet bloc and beyond.

Lily worked as reporter/presenter, senior producer, media consultant and trainer on a range of topics from agriculture and environment to small business and civil society. Fluent in English, Russian and Ukrainian, with some French and Polish, she left the BBC World Service Trust in 2001 to set up Media Players International.

She has since worked on a variety of projects across Europe and Asia, both for public and private clients, including training the staff of the Georgian parliament in presentation skills for Transparency International. Among her proudest achievements was directing a British government project to support the independence of the media in her native Ukraine prior to the Orange Revolution of 2005.

Over the last ten years Lily trained in PR and media skills a wide variety of organisations, from international institutions like the International Atomic Energy Agency and international companies to NGOs across the Caucasus and Ukraine. In the UK, she has trained local councils, NHS bodies and also academics and researchers from 30 universities in presentation skills and in getting their message across through the media.

This campaign is co-funded by the European Union's Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme.