Some weeks back, I chatted on InstaLive with Linda Kelly from Women Ascend. We discussed how women could harness the power of media by telling their stories to journalists as part of the #BetterMaternityCare campaign.
A media campaign can be crucial to the success of a campaign as it keeps decision-makers accountable.
Media can help you highlight the problem and communicate the solution and desired outcome while offering widespread solidarity to those whose lives are being shattered by these restrictions.
Sharing your story helps validate the experience for those going through it. It holds the HSE, ministers and hospitals to account and applies political pressure. It also gives space to celebrate the wins, praise those who support the cause and gain support for the campaign.
It’s important to remember that talking to the media about your personal life can be stressful.
Some people can feel retraumatised during or after interviews if the timing or media outlet is not right for you.
Media interviews can be exhausting, they can leave you feeling raw as they are emotionally invasive and they can be time-consuming – all things to consider if you’re a new mum with a small, demanding baby or if you’re already still raw from your experience.
News coverage will open your personal story up to the opinions and criticisms of friends, family and colleagues and absolute strangers on the internet. These stories remain online forever
It’s ok to NOT do media, too.
Step back and if there is any part of you that feels like maybe it’s not a good idea, listen to that and step back. Do not do an interview.
A bad interview could leave you feeling retraumatised as your story might not be portrayed in a way that you wanted and might leave you feeling powerless and out of control.
Media is NOT for everyone
There are lots of other ways you can help. Chat to Linda and others in the campaign if media is not for you but you still want to help.
But if you do want to press ahead with media, here are some tips to help with any media interviews relating to your personal story.
1: WHAT’S YOUR GOAL
Be mindful of the reason why you’re talking to media. What is the outcome that you’re campaigning for? How might you word that? Repeat this throughout the interview.
Knowing your objective will keep you focused and repeating the call for clear, specific action(s).
Keeping mindful of your objective will help your interview to stay on track and your collective voices will be heard as one voice.
2: WRITE NOTES
Write your notes in bullet point form, large print and on just one page.
Interviews can often place you in a state of fight or flight, so your notes are vital. When you’re being interviewed, you’ll want to remember your talking points that serve the goal.
3: TALKING POINTS
Think about what you want to say. This seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people just think that journalists will lead the chat and cover everything off. Their objective is to get the most interesting story and cover off the important facts.
Your objective is to tell the pertinent elements of your personal story and have it serve the collective goal of this campaign to help push for better outcomes for families on their reproductive journeys.
4: DEVELOP YOUR KEY MESSAGES
Have a think about those talking points and how you might express each one. Don’t write it down or memorise it, but just think on it and then speak it out naturally when the time comes.
And remember, you don’t have to tell every detail – just the pertinent points that clearly exhibit the need for change.
5: CONTROL THE NARRATIVE
Don’t let journalists pull you off-topic too much. If you feel uncomfortable you can steer the interview back to your key messages.
You can use phrases like “I think the real issue here is…” or “Let’s return to the main point that I’m trying to make…”
6: MAINTAIN YOUR PERSONAL BOUNDARIES
Your reproductive journey and experience is part of your sacred history. Don’t feel under pressure to share everything with a journalist. If you feel uncomfortable talking about an aspect of your experience, don’t be afraid to tell the journalist that.
If going on live radio/tv make sure to tell the producer in plenty of time what your boundaries are (what you don’t want to the presenter to ask you). Journalists are used of this and will respect these boundaries (and you are entitled to them).
7: INTERVIEW JITTERS
It’s totally normal to feel a little jittery (excited, nervous, terrified) before an interview.
If the whole idea of doing the interview is making you really stressed out, however, give yourself a break and don’t do it – that’s totally ok.
If you are comfortable going ahead with it, prepare your key messages earlier to help alleviate anxiety and give you confidence. If on the radio don’t drink too much water, tea or coffee beforehand. Warm water with lemon and honey is better and is also calming. Plan some self-care for afterward and go easy on yourself. Media work is powerful but it can be draining.
8: MAINTAIN THE MEDIA RELATIONSHIP
If it was a good interview, send the journalist a thank you email afterward and tag them on social with the clip/podcast/article. Journalists are pitched lots of stories each day but only have limited editorial spaces. Also, people rarely thank journos so they’ll remember the ones who do. They might be more inclined to chat to you again down the road if needs be if they enjoyed working with you on a story.
9: SHARE, SHARE, SHARE
Fill up news feeds, stories and every channel with your story and repeat your goal. What do you want? What does good look like?
10: BE YOURSELF
Don’t forget to be yourself. This issue impacts women and families from every walk of life. Media coverage will, and should, reflect that. Be true to who you are. 🥰
Listen back to the chat and please reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to chat with any woman, or man, who is considering telling their story to the media in order to move this campaign towards better outcomes for families on their reproductive journeys. Please do get in touch.