Public Knowledge Media Training Workshop: Developing Your Story: Why Your Research Matters

Public Knowledge Media Training Workshop: Developing Your Story: Why Your Research Matters


I’ve enrolled in a 5-part Media Training Workshop at CSULB. It’s led by Susan C. Mills, director, Public Knowledge. Last week was the workshop intro which I missed as I was at WordCampLA ’16. Today was Developing Your Story. Here are a few notes from today’s workshop:

Jill Nishida, Manager, North of Nine Communications, speaking to Public Knowledge: Media Training Workshop on the CSULB campus, LA4-120, Saturday 17 Sept 16
Jill Nishida, Manager, North of Nine Communications, speaking to Public Knowledge: Media Training Workshop on the CSULB campus, LA4-120, Saturday 17 Sept 16

Mining for Angles

  1. Jill Nishida
  2. Eric Lindbom
  3. Michael Uhlenkamp
  4. Susan C. Mills
  5. Finding our Angle, Key Message & Talking Points
  6. Colleague: Dr. Jose Rodriguez
  7. Colleague: Dr. Lilia Meltzer
  8. Glenn Zucman
  9. Homework
  10. More Speech

1. Jill Nishida

Manager, North of Nine Communications
media relations maven!

Mining for Story Angles
meet clients, look at their work, thinking about story angles:
who, what, when, where, why

Satellite Internet Company: not larger or faster or really even about satellites, but about meeting the needs of remote & rural individuals

ICANN: key rollover, technical and obscure, but if it failed 200m peeps around world could lose access. Not ignoring the what but finding the central angle that allows you to tell the broader story.

Symantec: baby monitor hacked

2. Eric Lindbom

vice president, Media Relations, Edelman Public Relations
largest PR firm in the world (67 offices, 4,800 employees)
Edelman / Los Angeles – across the street from LACMA

I spend all my time pitching media

It’s a media hating year in America, but I believe that the media is essential.

  • You present the data.
  • Journalists want call to action.
  • You’re not an advocate.
  • (fine line to walk)

When one of the colleagues in my group said their work involved cellular techniques and bandwidth, he asked a couple of simple, but great questions:

What was your 1st cellphone? What was your 1st smartphone?

3. Michael Uhlenkamp

Executive Director of Media and Digital News
News at the Beach
Pitch Angles

Your “elevator pitch” – why does that matter?

4. Susan C. Mills

Kelp Research
Minor radiation from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster showing up in kelp forests off California coast. > national news story – found an angle that resonates

Key Messages

What are your key messages and how can you communicate them?

  • What do you intend to communicate during this interview? What are you key messages?
  • What are the talking points you want to state that support your key messages?
  • Do your key messages and talking points relate to your angle?

Key Message: Signal Hill is the least healthy neighborhood in Long Beach
Talking Points: soda consumption, amount of exercise..

Even if you have a PhD & years of experience… if you haven’t thought about your Key Message & Talking Points… that interview is not going to go well. You need to prepare.

Jim Cramer on Jon Stewart – he was unprepared, didn’t have a key message – went horribly. He needed to prepare for this. Have a key message & talking points to support it.

… bridging back to your key message

it’s not just about finding an angle, it’s about finding ways to communicate your message.

In a robust interview you’d probably have 2 or 3 key messages and 2 or 3 talking points for each.

Or in a short interview it might not come around to your key message. Be sure to try to include it at the end at least. Or restate it at the end if you have mentioned it already.

5. Your Research

Your Angle, Key Message & Talking Points

  • Your angle
  • what are you trying to do
  • how is is relevant to the public
  • eg: *satellites bring Internet to individuals in rural & remote locations

Draft your key Messages

  • What do you intend to communicate during this interview?
  • do they track back to your angle

Draft your Talking Points

  • What are the talking points you want to state that support your key messages?
  • Do any of your talking points track back to your angle?


  • Should be no longer than 1-2 sentences MAX
  • Do not use jargon

6. Colleague: Dr. Jose Rodriguez

Research on Empathy

Make America Great Again

I’m with her

One resonates with nostalgia, one does not. (psychology, persuasion)

7. Colleague: Dr. Lilia Meltzer

just completed PhD UCLA
nurse practitioner

  • role of trust in the medical profession
  • role of trust in enhancing self reported health, blood pressure measurements
  • focusing on patients with hypertension
  • trust in the medical profession has gone down… but trust in your own doctor has remained constant
  • trust + resilience > risk communication

from Eric:

  • very interesting to media
  • AP will only report phone surveys, not online surveys
  • you don’t necessarily have to advocate, journalists sometimes look for a call to action

Key Message – hypertension (30% of pop in US, since 1999) predictor for other disease

we tend to talk conceptually – journalists love specific examples (eg: State of the Union Address: president always has several people seated next spouse: returning veteran, captain of industry, etc – individual examples of data trends)

8. Glenn Zucman


I work with the emerging identity class (jargon) of avatars. Your avatar can simultaneously express your interests and protect your privacy by focusing on the information relevant to a given transaction or relationship and preserving the privacy of personal information not currently relevant.

Virtual University
A university education today is expensive, time consuming, often feels like jumping through so many arbitrary hoops, and at the end may or may not lead to career development and advancement. What if there was a virtual university where students wrote their own curriculum, designed with individual goals in mind, even if those goals represent careers not yet acknowledged by mainstream education?

Key Messages

  • Your avatar is more honest than you are.
  • Avatars offer freedom & privacy at once.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
Oscar Wilde

Talking Points

  • Real life has a lot of baggage: what will my family, friends, co-workers think?
  • The “mask” of the avatar gives me the freedom to express things I really care about.
  • Not bound by geography, my avatar can find real human connection anywhere on earth.

examples in your back pocket
worked w someone…

freshmen… public speaking…
social anxiety…
people love to hear experiential examples

  • Students afraid to talk F2F >> much more open in online forum
  • autistic students prefer robot teachers
  • I love my car GPS because it is patient

It was interesting that in our small group discussion with Eric Lindbom my work with Avatars, Virtual Universities, and RL CSULB all came into play. My experience of having such a hard time getting freshmen in large lectures to participate in F2F discussions, vs the relative ease of getting them to participate in online discussions wound up being a supporting talking point for some of the avatar messages.

It is also a good challenge to try to develop ideas that come directly from my work. I think I have a tendency to make an argument and realize that while compelling, the item doesn’t come from my actual work, but from my reading of, for example, Yochai Benkler’s work. Citing others seems helpful, but I’m not sure I’ve really tried to specify those things that come directly from my own work.

9. Homework

  • Refine your key messages
  • do they relate to your angle?
  • brainstorm questions that a reporter could ask
  • draft and refine talking points to support your key messages
  • Begin to think about visuals you will use in interviews and videos – still pix? what do things look like? fish tracker?

Brainstorm questions and see how your key messages & talking points can answer those questions

• Remaining classes in Hall of Science 105
• Closing reception, Th 17 Nov, 5:30-7p, The Miller House

10. More Speech

During today’s discussion, one of my colleagues made a pretty depressing statement:

The best simulations don’t come up on search. They have large grants and minimal publicity.

He argued that search often turns up conspiracy theories better than scientific research. If true, this is pretty depressing news. For some time now my mantra on speech and information has been Justice Brandeis:

If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
Justice Brandeis, Whitney v. California, 1927

In a sense, this colleague was arguing that more speech had failed. If so, where did it fail? A public more interested in conspiracy theories than science? A scientific community more focused on outmoded tenure policies than an educated citizenry? I don’t know. But I do know I’d like to see a lot more content on the web. Yes, the web is overflowing with unimaginable volumes of content. Libraries of libraries. But if this better research doesn’t bubble to the top, we’ve failed.

I’ve looked at the Edelman Trust Barometer in the past, and after meeting with Eric Lindbom I reviewed some of their recent data and talks on video. In a January 2016 presentation Ed Williams, CEO Edelman UK & Ireland, Richard Edelman, president & CEO Edelman, and David Miliband, president & CEO International Rescue Committee, discuss and contextualize the 2016 findings. While they don’t focus on Brexit or Donald Trump, they do mention both in the context of an inversion of trust. In the past elites had authority and influence, now they see the mass population trusting their local networks more than authority.

slide showing "The Inversion of Influence", that authority is no longer trusted as much as the general population itself
Edelman Trust Barometer 2016

I think that networked communication and social media have played a part in this. Could it be that the greatest communications media in human history has played a role in creating less informed, more tribal citizens? If media are neutral to the ideas they transmit, and if new media is vastly more read-write than earlier media, then it seems possible. All the more reason for scholars like the participants in this workshop to embrace communication with both traditional and new media. In the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer they show Search and Social as more influential with the 85% Mass Population than Newspapers and Magazines (and the opposite for the 15% Informed Public)

chart showing the "Influence of peer driven media" as Search and Social are more relied upon by the general population than newspapers and magazines
Edelman Trust Barometer 2016

In the past 5 years I’ve cajoled about 1,200 CSULB students into making their own websites. A lot fewer of them than I’d like have continued on with these sites, making them personal ePortfolios. But at least some have. At least I’ve made a tiny contribution both to these students’ ability to project their professionalism to future employers, clients & colleagues, and to a richer Internet of shared knowledge and ideas.

LinkedIn is good. is good. Yet most of us don’t build houses on other people’s property. Why do we feel ok about putting our intellectual homes on other people’s proprietary platforms? The Open Web is the greatest space I know for sharing knowledge and advancing culture.

Comments? Questions? What great art did you see, make, or experience today?

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