December 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 4 // Tools of the Trade // 4TOT1

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Take the Mystery out of Media

The right kind of publicity can help raise visibility of your educational efforts. "Take the Mystery Out of Media: Make Your Publicity Newsworthy," a book by Lorraine B. Kingdon, former president of the Agricultural Communicators in Education, offers practical advice on how to get publicity and survive in the media jungle. (A book review by Dennis Brown, Washington State University Cooperative Extension.)

H. Dennis Brown
Information Specialist
Washington State University Cooperative Extension
Internet address:

Take the Mystery out of Media: Make Your Publicity Newsworthy. Lorraine B. Kingdon. 1994. Tucson: Communication Skills Institute. 137 pp., $14.95 (soft cover).

A reporter once handed me a business card with this quote on it: "Reporters are like alligators. You don't have to love them. You don't even have to like them, but you do have to feed them." Lorraine Kingdon's new book, "Take the Mystery out of Media: Make Your Publicity Newsworthy," tells how to "feed them" and a lot more.

Designed to help the uninitiated get their stories told in the media without spending a fortune and to help them survive unwanted media attention, the book answers a most basic question first: Why deal with the media at all?

" take a high risk ignoring the media. All those customers you want to reach are paying attention to what they read, and hear, and see. Media can give you credibility...or destroy it. Media can endorse your products or services to large numbers of possible customers...or they can label you a fraud."

Just as importantly, the book explains the rules of the media game and dispels some of the popular notions surrounding media. "With rare exception...and believe me, they were rare...journalists worked as hard as they could to make sure their stories were accurate." Kingdon speaks from more than 30 years experience working for and with the media, 27 of those years in the agricultural and home economics communications offices at the University of Delaware, Washington State University, and the University of Arizona.

Kingdon provides practical tips with chapters on how to handle interviews, including how to get your message across; how to handle crisis situations; correcting media mistakes; and, how to set up news conferences. The last chapter ends with sound advice: "Think very hard before you decide to have a conference. Then, think again. All too frequently news conferences are held to promote egos, not news. That's why they fail." The book also contains several useful appendices. One appendix lists sources of media directories, mailing list sources, national production houses, and distribution services. Phone numbers and price estimates are provided in most cases. Formats for print and broadcast releases are offered in another appendix.

Kingdon says she designed the book with three audiences in mind. The principal audience is small business owners who do not have the capital to invest in elaborate public relations efforts. The book is also written for agricultural majors who more and more need to know how to deal with the media. A third audience is college agriculture and home economics administrators.

It's a delightful and very useful book for all three intended audiences, as well as Extension educators who want to get their programs publicly known and recognized. In fact, every county Extension office in Arizona has a copy. It's well worth the investment.

The book can be ordered through the mail by writing Communications Skills Institute, 7049 E. Tanque Verde, Suite 302, Tucson, AZ 85715. The price includes shipping.