Drones vs. Journalists: How to get the most out of media

When it comes to media attention, drones are hot stuff.

According to the writers of Grand Forks-based publication UAS Magazine, the industry is clambering over each other with lofty claims of, “We’re first!” or “Only ones in the world!” Above all, everyone is hankering for some clarity from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected to release the official rulebook for drones later this year. The people want drone news, and drone news they shall get.


But what of the journalists? The people behind the pen and paper, who have the unique position of watching everything transpire? Pat Miller, a staff writer at UAS Magazine, joined the monthly Drone Focus Meet-up at the Prairie Den last week to share what it’s like behind-the-scenes of drone news. From news release etiquette to avoiding foot-in-mouth situations, Miller had a lot of tips for this new industry.

Pat Miller’s Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Media

Miller premised his list by explaining that, while you don’t have to bend over backwards to satisfy the media, it is usually in your best interest to be as helpful as possible. After all, media is a powerful outlet for spreading your name and your work. We’ve split it into three parts: News Releases, Publication, and Follow-up. [Editor’s Note: list has been condensed for publication]

When Sending News Releases…

  • Don’t Blind Date. Research the trade and industry publications that best fit your objective, and establish relationships with them. Don’t just send out mass news releases to anyone. Use a targeted approach.
  • Don’t Cry Wolf. Don’t issue news releases every other day to “stay on the media’s radar” or fulfill a quota. This can often backfire, Miller said; when the journalist sees an abundance of news releases, they begin to ignore them. Then, when your company has an important news release, if will likely get overlooked.
  • Don’t Play Hard to Get. When you send out a news release, journalists don’t want to just publish that verbatim. They want to make it their own and get in touch with somebody. Miller asked, on behalf of journalists everywhere: please put your contact information – phone, e-mail, address – clearly on each news release and on your website.
  • Do Show Us Your Good Side. Visuals are always good. Have high-quality photos, video, any illustrative diagrams or maps ready to go, and send them with the news release. If a journalist asks for something specific, be sure to be quick with your response.
  • Do Stay Relevant: Develop a website that is kept up to date and has proper search engine optimization (SEO) so that it appears in news alerts. Not only does it boost your credibility as a company, but it increases your chances of media coverage.

How to get (the right) quotes published…

  • Don’t BS: Avoid saying phrases like “We’re the only ones doing this,” unless you know so for sure. In the UAS industry especially, Miller and his fellow writers hear this from every company in the book. (And its often blatantly untrue.)
  • Don’t Say “Wait, I Take That Back”: If you don’t want it in the story, don’t say it. As you’ll see in the third portion of this article, journalists don’t like being asked to remove or change quotes, and most likely they won’t. Make sure you can stand by your words.
  • Do Get Trendy: Focus on how your company fits in with current trends and events. For example, drone recently crashed into White House? Reference it and talk about how your company fits into the solution.
  • Do Politely Strut Your Stuff: Highlight your company’s success stories. Emphasize how your company is unique or different. It’s difficult for journalists to work with over-humble companies that don’t brag a little bit. As Miller stated, “If you don’t toot your own horn, who will?”

How to R-E-S-P-E-C-T the journalist in follow-up…

  • Don’t Do Their Job: Don’t ask to review the article before publication. Most news publications will flat out deny this request. It takes up too much time, Miller said. Factual errors can be corrected – but don’t expect to be able to rewrite portions, or say ‘take that out,’ etc.
  • Don’t Be the Controlling One: Be aware that regulations or liability that you/your company are under do not apply to the journalist, or their publication. If you don’t want them to take photos of something, tell them beforehand or don’t show them at all.
  • Don’t Bribe the Journalist: Buying advertising does not buy favorable editorial coverage.
  • Do Honor the Clock: Assume every journalist is operating on a deadline. Be prompt in your responses.
  • Do Call in Back-up: Offer to provide the journalist with brochures and papers as background. Send them links to other publications that have featured your company.

There you have it! Big thanks to Pat Miller and Ann Bailey from UAS Magazine for joining us.

Check out UAS Magazine here for more drone-tastic news.

Marisa Jackels

Marisa Jackels

, News