Yeah, I know. You think that you are already participating in your own manipulation. You even bought the limited edition poster. Think bigger. Think of a place where you don't need Level 6 to post images.

How the news media "works"

Contrary to popular belief, neither trained monkeys and/or Cthulhu are running the media. Yet. The structure of the news media has undergone two major changes since the 1970s. Firstly is the trend for global news empires towards monopoly. Think AOL/TimeWarner or MSNBC. As a result, economies of scale and ratings have come to rule the news industry. News is no longer run as public trusts with a unique responsibility to society, but as a consumer good marketed like soap. This can be used to your advantage, Grasshopper. Secondly, in the past, newspapers dominated news coverage with an iron fist, with television and radio playing second fiddle. No More.

If you happen upon any large, modern newspaper office, with the exception of a hatful of the prestige newspapers, you'll see the dedicated team of editors tuned into CNN. I kid you not. Most newspapers are driven by the same values as television. Short, simplistic, episodic, crime- and celebrity-ridden, dominated by images, and overwhelmingly commercial.

Unless you're the ilk of the world's richest "Australian", it is unlikely that you can change the structure of the news media overnight. But there is plenty of room to exploit its structural weakness. Even you can wield the Greyskull-like powers of the mass media with reckless abandon!

What you'll need to do:

1. Create an Angle and a Simple Message
On the simplest level, your issue must bring ratings to the news outlet. If you can't pitch the story to make it seem newsworthy, give up now. Journalists are taught from birth that one or more of the following make news:

Combine and manufacture these elements wisely. Your issue must be simplified to a memorable slogan, to which people can link more complex ideas.

2. Which media, and who?

As a rule, bigger is better, but do not to ignore smaller news outlets. Smaller outlets such as local papers or radio never have the resources to research all the news that's fit to print and as a result, they'll publish your press release verbatim. Learn to link reporters' names to your kind of story. If you are still unsure, call the news room and ask. Find the details for your local newswire (AP, UPI, Reuters) representative.

3. Contact the Appropriate Journalist. Warn them of impending news.

This is pretty self evident. Get the right person. Write them a decent press release. Calling Tom Brokaw and faxing him a press release might be good for a laugh, but it won't get you on CBS. When pitching the idea to a television journalist, be sure to mention the mind-blowing visual element to your story. Don't be afraid when they start breathing heavily.

4. Maximise Coverage through Timing!

Timing makes you strong!. Avoid scheduling your event/coverage on the same day as another major media event, like an election. Try to schedule your event in the morning, so reporters have plenty of time to meet deadline. Unless there is catastrophic event of some description, no news is made after 3pm.

The shining exception to this golden rule is live television. Consider scheduling during the evening hours when local news is broadcast.

5. Prepare yourself for the Big Day.

If your event requires a press pass or ticket for admission, get them ready. Build a press pack containing background information about you. In addition to the press release, the packet can include fact sheets or pamphlets, biographies of key people, and photographs. If you have a prepared speech, make a text of it available to all and sundry. Have the right spokesperson on hand to answer questions. Make sure someone is available after hours for follow-up contact.

6. Begin.

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