If you want to execute some control over how your project is portrayed in the media, you need to consider your approach to media relations and media training. A proactive media relations program can promote positive news coverage during the project. Media training will prepare key spokeperson(s) from your project to stand up on camera.
Know the Basics
Educate yourself and your team on major and outlying media sources and keep in mind social media. Embrace your media. They are your primary conduits to the public. Compile a list of subject matter experts and approved spokesperson(s), including who is trained for on-camera interviews.
Know the Big Picture
Consider the scope of your transportation project, consider motorist and community impact and consider the best use of media coverage. Providing consistent coverage creates confidence in motorists, pedestrians and local communities impacted by your project.
· Why does the public care about this project?
· Who will benefit?
· What communities are affected by this project?
· What changes and updates should commuters be made aware of?
Know the Reporters
Targeting individual reporters, who cover project related subjects, increases your chances for project coverage. Researching individual journalists takes time and persistence in the beginning, but builds the relationships essential for good public relations. Keep communication open and if you do not have an immediate response, touch base and let them know you are working on their request.
Know Your Message
Protect yourself with knowledge. Write out key talking points for each project and share with all key participants. If a reporter requires a quick response and you are unavailable, put the talking points in the hands of other project members will provide immediate, vetted information.
The bottom line, communication is key. Whether this information is good or bad, honesty and facts are the best approach. The community and key stakeholders are the ones who are directly impacted by your project, they deserve to have the correct information communicated in a clear and concise way.