Contacting Change Makers (On Air)
Two of the most powerful tools for promoting your message are your face and your voice. Speaking through television, radio and online video offers the unique opportunity to grab your audience by letting them get to know you, not just what you have to say. Show the world the diversity of Islam; show the world the diversity of people who support the messages of ChangeTheStory.
Speaking on radio, TV and the internet is terrifying to some. Don’t forget that it is a learned skill and anyone can learn it! Here are some tips to help you get started.
Most importantly: MAKE NEWS. HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING THAT MATTERS RIGHT NOW TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. Radio and TV won’t give you space unless you have something exciting and fresh to say on air. Are you an expert on a certain aspect of Islam? Are you doing a unique and exciting project about Islam or religious diversity? Is your community, family or constituency doing something remarkable, something that grabs peoples’ interest whenever you describe it? If not - and if you want press - consider doing something that does.
Getting On Air:
Let people know who you are and what you want to talk about. Contact local radio and TV programs to let them know what exciting work you or your organization is doing. Be sure to communicate with a producer and tell them who you are, what authority you have (perhaps you direct an organization, are a religious leader, or are the leader of a school project) and why this project or expertise matters to the community. BE TIMELY—relate your work or expertise to breaking news. Nothing is more important when pitching the press than your news “peg” – to what immediate larger news story, pop culture phenomenon, or current event does your perspective or message speak?
- Be sure to be up on all the latest news and ready to answer questions about it, particularly breaking and controversial news.
- Know your message—the one thing you want to communicate when on the air. Be sure you can say it in a way that people will understand and remember. Be sure you can say it in less than seven seconds. Before you take an interview, decide what you want to say. What is the one sentence you would like quoted in the New York Times? Your job in an interview is to say that one thing in as many interesting and consistent ways as you can.
- Get stories, statistics and scripture or teachings from your religious tradition. Support your main message with anecdotes and information that make it accessible, engaging and memorable.
- MAKE IT PERSONAL. The simple formula for success in an interview is to say your “core message” and to hook it to an engaging story or anecdote. If you make someone feel moved or angry or shocked through your interview, they will be engaged. If you just feed them ideas, chances are they will go in one ear and out the other.
- PREPARE TO BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD: you may think you are going to be interviewed about Muslim dietary traditions and the interviewer might instead ask you to define Jihad, or report on the Muslim American Idol contestant, or name who you plan to vote for in the current election. Google the reporter and listen or watch his/her show in advance of the interview. Every reporter has a bias, a beat, a passion. Google yourself too – the reporter has just done so in anticipation of the interview. If a subject you would rather not talk about is available online and juicy, chances are it will come up. Know how you will respond and how you plan to redirect the conversation back to what you have taken the interview to say.
Take The Air Waves By Storm:
- Any interview you participate in is YOUR INTERVIEW. Own it. Be sure to always come back to your central message.
- Remember—what you say to the interviewer, you say to the audience. If you act angry or dismissive, you are angry at or dismissing the audience. That will turn people off right away. Be engaging, pleasant and exciting.
- STOP TALKING. Answer questions with a sentence or two and then be quiet. If you find yourself rambling, just stop talking.
Be sure to follow-up with producers and reporters. Let them know that you are available to clarify things or speak on other issues later.
- You can also make media! Make a video that is quirky, arresting and new, but remember, NEVER BE ENGAGING AT THE EXPENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY.
- Make sure you edit it carefully and that it is perfect.
- Show it to some trusted friends and community members for their feedback before you post it.
- Send it to your networks and ask them to spread the word. Send it to related blogs. Or make your own blog! Become your own media distributor!