Equity Board Brief #13

Recognition & Successful Outreach Tips

Recognition of effort & practices 

Hello Everyone! 

This newsroom has changed so much over the year and I am happy to see everyone grow as journalists every day. I’m also excited to see people ask questions and take that extra step to think critically about journalism and how we report. Putting out the guide last week was kind of daunting because I talked about a lot of things that are just now changing in journalism. It warms my heart to see some of these practices already implemented in our newsroom and see how everyone is making an effort to report more thoughtfully. 

Respectful outreach tips

One of the most common things I’ve seen brought up is how to reach out to people in a respectful manner. We saw issues surrounding outreach come up a few times this semester. Here are a few tips to remember as you reach out to people for stories: 

  • Match the tone of the story: If the story is fun, have a fun tone in your outreach. If it is a more serious story, have a serious tone. This keeps the message from sounding trivial or problematic. 

 

  • Do your research: This is a must and should be drilled in classes, however, I think it is always important to reiterate. Do research on the person you are reaching out to so that you can get key information that’ll be helpful when you send them an email or message. Anything you can find will help you in both the research and, if you get an interview, during the conversation. 

 

  • Open with background: When we are in a time crunch, we can be very straight to the point. When reaching out to people, try not to be too blunt. Offer background on the story at the beginning of the message. You may know a lot about what your story is about, but the person on the other side of the email may not. A timely example would be if you were working on a story about the recent bill proposed in Tennessee that would ban LGBTQ textbooks in public schools. If you reached out to the LGBTQ+ Student Center or the Queer and Ally Student Assembly to get a comment on how this could influence students, you’d want to introduce the development in two or three sentences. We can’t assume that just because they are part of the community that they know everything that is going on across the nation or the world. It also helps if you link a news brief or website with more information! 

 

  • Let them take command: I know that sounds like a loaded statement, but what I’m essentially saying is to offer them the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to the interview request before sending over times and zoom links. Take the pressure off of them to do the interview and let them make the decision.(Pull Quote) Be sure to add a sentence at the end of your invitation along the lines of, “let me know if you are interested and available to jump on a call today to speak with me about the story.” It is also great to ask for their help on the story. At the end of the day, that is what a source does. They are helping us understand the issue and craft a story that we could imagine and pitch, but need their voices to sharpen. 

 

  • Allow space for new leads: Unless you are dedicated to getting this specific voice, I suggest adding a line that asks if they know anyone else who could be a great voice for the story. This was suggested by one of the SEIP center directors when I asked about their experience with reporters. They can be swamped with work or not know enough about the story to comment on it, but they can lead you to another voice who may be better suited. 

 

Lastly, here is a link to Annenberg Media’s Guide to Equitable Reporting Strategies and Newsroom Style where you can find more guidance: http://bit.ly/AnnMediaEquitableReportingGuide 

 

As always, reach out to Equity Board members if you need specific guidance. Stay safe and healthy! 

Best, 

Steven 

About This Site

This is a resource hub to help student reporters at the Annenberg Media Center.

If you’re new to the Media Center, check out this one-page guide to see what it’s all about.

Contact the Media Center

Media Center Director, Professor Christina Bellantoni
bellanto@usc.edu
(213) 740-3874

Annenberg Media Executive Editor, Nataly Joseph
nvjoseph@usc.edu

Annenberg Media Assignment Desk:
(213) 740-3847

For equipment-related issues:
(213) 740-5739
ascequip@usc.edu
annenbergtechops.com