Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

By Gerard Braud

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}

IReport Voting pageAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support daily through May 5, 2013, is greatly appreciated.

The news media love to show the contrast between what was and what is. If the media are going to do this anyway, you should anticipate it and plan your public relations strategy, media training strategy or crisis communications strategy to take advantage of this.

It is disappointing that the videos shown in my nomination for In-Depth Storytelling for the iReporter Awards focuses only on my reports after Hurricane Isaac. It was actually my CNN iReports before Hurricane Isaac that got the attention of network news producers, which triggered their calls to me to appear live on HLN during the CNN/HLN Evening Express program and the Dr. Drew program.

Here is the how, why and what I did, so you can do the same thing.

Reporters, anchors and media unfamiliar with a particular location don’t know what to expect. Sometimes they have misconceptions, which lead to inaccurate reporting. Sometimes their lack of knowledge makes the audience think the media are biased. Sometimes the local audience thinks the media are stupid. Your effort to make the story easy to tell makes reporters smarter and more accurate.

Since my house on Lake Pontchartrain afforded me a front row seat to the storm, I saw an opportunity to tell an accurate story to and for the media, through my iReports. My experience as a storm chaser and former journalist, positioned me to know that conditions were going to change drastically during Hurricane Isaac. So, my first video iReport Isaac Ireport Gerard Braudforetold that a calm Lake Pontchartrain would overflow its banks, flooding my neighborhood. My video including me showing the calm lake and the beautiful green grass of my yard near New Orleans, then telling how all that you see would be covered with water in 24 hours.

This prediction, as an iReport, got the attention of CNN producers. My strategy all along was to show my flooded neighborhood in my second iReport, which I did.
Isaac Flooding Gerard BraudThis contrast further got the attention of CNN producers. This, in turn, triggered the phone call asking me to do live reports via Skype, G3 and my iPhone 4, all while I had no electricity and 7 feet of water surrounding my house.

These news reports further set the stage to keep telling the story as conditions deteriorated. Next came the report of the physical damage to my home, followed by stories of massive amounts of debris, followed by reports of dead animals, and the reports of live alligators.Debris from Isaac Gerard Braud

The compare and contrast story should be a standard part of your story telling, whether you are filing an iReport, writing a news release, or communicating directly to the media during a crisis. Recognize what is… recognize what was… then compare the two in order to add perspective to your story and situation. This should be done by your corporate spokesperson, Public Information Officers (PIOs) at the state, county and city level, and anyone who must serve as the spokesperson during an unfolding news event.

In our next article, you’ll learn how to manage the expectations of your audience.

Thank you again for your daily votes through May 5th

My reports are in the In-Depth Storytelling category under Isaac’s Aftermath.

To learn more, here are links to previous articles on this topic:

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?


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