March 23, 2009

The age of the “Fur-Cation”

Posted in Media at 11:52 am by R

No. Fur-cation is not some PETA activist event, it’s a new challenge in PR & journalism.

Early in 2009, the Arizona Republic announced it would be instating a mandatory two-week furlough. All staff members of the Republic and local NBC affiliate KPNX are required to take two weeks off between the January initiation of the program and June 2009.

I personally think it’s valiant that Gannet has come up with an alternate solution to lay offs. But it’s a challenge to navigate the newsroom with any number of people gone on any given day. Though, many journalists are vigilant about getting the word out about their absence through email and social media.

Several times  I’ve worked with reporters who worked their fingers to the bone trying to meet deadlines before they depart on “fur-cation.” No doubt this creates stress for journalists, managing already tight deadlines and doubling up on work to cover their forced absence. Talk about high-blood pressure!

Fur-cation is just one more scenario we are all adapting to as we work together to create the news in this shifting media environment.

So. Tips for dealing with fur-cation:

  1. Honor reporters deadlines. Simple. No explanation required. Do this ALWAYS.
  2. Pile on the info. Limit a reporter’s run around by giving them all the resources to do their job easily. That’s really what our job is after all. More than ever, package it all up with a nice tidy bow; from smart short pitches to interviews, photos and other juicy tid-bits.
  3. Be Patient. Generally, we know when we WANT or NEED something to run in the press. But some flexibility is important. Don’t let your sense of urgency over power your sense to help reporters and foster those working relationships. If a story can wait and you know you’ve got the right journalist to tell said story, hold off. Let them know you’ve got a great one for when they return. Better to have a story told the way you want to tell it than having a piece appear at the right time with out the right messaging.
  4. Ask how else you can help. Don’t just serve your own purposes. You are a resource! Check in on the other stories those reporters are working on and try to help out. Help them take a load off where you can.

The moral of of the story is be mindful and be helpful, because folks, this isn’t a vacation…it’s fur-cation.

~R

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