The Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) recently hosted a webinar for its members on “Communicating with the Press,” during which a professional media trainer led participants through a session dealing with different sorts of high-stress interactions with print and broadcast reporters. The webinar featured possible real life solid-waste-related scenarios to help industry professionals become more comfortable with talking to the press and become more effective company and industry spokespersons.
During the session, EIA President and CEO Bruce J. Parker stated, “I think we can all agree that we think of the media as an adversary … Of course we're concerned about having our words twisted, and we worry that we'll say the wrong thing. But that means we may lose an opportunity to talk with our communities, and deliver messages about our industry that underscore our importance to public health, our commitment to environmental responsibility and our technological innovation.
“The goal is to be effective, not to be perfect,” Parker continued. “Nobody is perfect, and besides, we don't need perfection. In order to be effective, we should try to understand how the media build their stories and how to deliver our messages loud and clear.”
The session, which attracted about 70 industry participants, included segments dealing with basic interview techniques, handling an “ambush” interview (where the interviewee may be caught off guard by the reporter) and handling different types of potentially difficult interview subjects. The session concluded with practical suggestions for preparing for any interaction with a reporter.
An industry representative who took part in the session described it as useful. “It was a good use of my time, as it provided practical recommendations for dealing with the sorts of questions from reporters that we get regularly,” he said.
Audio and video recordings of the session are available for download by any member of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) or the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) on a members-only section of the EIA website. If you are an NSWMA or WASTEC member and someone who deals with reporters (even if media relations is not your primary responsibility), you should download the session.
If you are not an NSWMA or WASTEC member, this resource is another example of why you should join. The session was the latest of a series of communications how-to webinars that EIA has hosted for its members. The next will occur in the fall, and the planned topic is social media.
The upcoming session heralds EIA's growing embrace of social media. For example, NSWMA and WASTEC have launched separate Twitter feeds about industry and association activities. In addition, EIA has added an aggregate reader on its website of Twitter feeds from all NSWMA and WASTEC member companies. EIA also recently launched a new Facebook fan page where industry professionals can network and dialogue by sharing news, learning about association activities and tagging photos taken at EIA events. These Twitter and Facebook activities are in addition to the LinkedIn groups and blog that EIA already operates.
Social media increasingly is the way that people communicate with professional colleagues and friends, so it is appropriate that EIA create opportunities for its members to use these tools to communicate with each other, get information and have fun.
Everyone is invited to visit www.environmentalistseveryday.org/spreadtheword to learn about the different ways that EIA is using social media.
- Speak Up: Social media has a lot to offer waste industry professionals
- Hello World: Social media enables waste companies to take advantage of online communication
- The 10 Commandments Of Community Relations
- Image Is Everything: NSWMA plans to launch promotional campaign
Thomas Metzger is director of communications and public affairs for the National Solid Wastes Management Association. Reach him at (202) 364-3751.