Monday, June 12, 2006

Cracking Da Media Code

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

With the international movie based on Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code breaking box office records around the world, its time to look into the secret world of the media.

How do you crack Da Media Code and get your message across clearly and consistently in the media.

Well, for some the media represents a secret sect to be feared or revered.

In reality, the media are a group of dedicated professionals just doing their job of keeping the community informed.

Understand how the media works, what makes a story and what motivates them ... and you understand how to work with them and not against them.

Having worked in the media for the past 26 years, including print, radio, television, wires services, internet, blogging and podcasting, here is the secret code for unlocking the riches that the media can offer.

First, you have to get inside the mind of the media, to unlock the code of what motivates reporters, editors, executive producers and other decision makers.

Unlock this code and you are guaranteed of being able to connect with them and truly understand their deepest desires, aspirations and motivations.

After working in the media for so long, my model on why people are attracted to working in the media has identified five archetypes.

At the core, every individual working within the media could be classified within one of these five archetypes.

Remember, according to wikipedia "an archetype is an idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality or behaviour."

Cracking Da Media Code is about archetypes in the media and understanding how to work best with them.

Understand how to work with these five archetypes and you have cracked Da Media Code.

1. The Ego Driven.

These people are attracted to the media because they want to see their name in print, hear their voice on radio or see their face on television.

They have strong egos, opinions and self belief.

To crack the code, learn to work with and to their egos. They thrive on looking good, being complimented and positive stroking of their already healthy self-esteem.

They've got to the top by looking good, sounding confident and writing clearly.

2. The Story Teller.

These mediatypes are interested in the personal or hero's journey of individuals. They want to discover and tell the highs and lows of an individual's personal quest.

Australian Story on ABC TV on Monday night is a classic palette on which a story teller can work their craft.

You never hear or see the journalist. It is all about the talent telling their story in their own words.

In fact the program has become the media vehicle of choice for people under pressure in the public spotlight who want to tell their version of events in their own way without the intense questioning of the media.

The most skilled and successful archetype in this category influences millions through his work in Hollywood and ranks among the most successful storytellers in history. His name is Steven Spielberg.

Storytellers tend to have a sense of wonder and faith in human nature and be optimistic. They love dealing with ordinary characters who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

Sometimes anti-authoritian, they often take the side of the underdog.

They love doing profile pieces and features on people and their lives and understanding what makes them tick.

Often middle children, they connect well with people and like sharing stories.

In cracking the code, work to their optimistic nature and how your story idea illustrates an inherent conflict or struggle to overcome adversity. What is the "rags to riches" angle?

3. The Mirror Holder.

These mediatypes want to hold a mirror up to the world. Not because of their ego but because they want to be part of living history.

And that's the essence of what motivates them. They want to hold a mirror up to the world and report on history as it unfolds by reporting as accurately and fairly as possible.

They are often foreign correspondents and found in the world's hotspots. They thrive on adrenaline, the thrill of the chase and have an eye for detail.

My friend, 33-year-old Australian cameraman Harry Burton, who worked for the Reuters agency and whom I met on a Vincent Fairfax Fellowship was typical of this archetype. He was tragically killed in a roadside ambush 90 kilometres from Kabul in Afghanistan on the 19th of November 2001 chasing his dream.

Neil Davis (1934-1985), an Australian Combat Cameraman who is the subject of the book One Crowded Hour is another.

To crack the code with these mediatypes means the story must have strong news values .... dramatic, newsworthy and with major consequences.

4. The Truth Seeker.

These mediatypes believe it is their responsibility to turn over every stone to uncover the truth.
They are methodical and ruthless in their pursuit of the truth. One archetype I know was a detective in the police force before becoming a journalist.

To crack the code, remember they will never write a story from a media release. They will be down at the courts or trawling through freedom of information material in their quest to uncover the truth.

Always be honest and upfront when dealing with truthseekers.

5. The Social Activist.

These archetypes are attracted to the media because they want to change the world. They see the power and influence the media has and they use it to further their own cause or personal agenda.
The secret is to find their cause, passion or reason for being and work to this strength.

You will find them as environmental reporters, or covering industrial relations, education or social justice topics.

In summary, understand these five archetypes and you will have greater success in getting your message across in the media.

Note: Thomas Murrell, 8M Media and Communications and "Da Media Code" do not have any association with or authorisation from Sony Pictures or Dan Brown or the book and movie entitled "The Da Vinci Code".

Want help cracking Da Media Code?
Book here for our code breaking seminar Writing and Pitching Winning Media Releases in Perth on Wednesday June 28th.

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