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Talking to the media (how to avoid horror stories)



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Old April 17th, 2015, 14:15   #1
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Burnaby BC
Talking to the media (how to avoid horror stories)

Our airsoft group has recently been given the tremendous opportunity to showcase our sport in a public setting. This is a huge leap forward for us as it will help encourage awareness, attendance, and recognition.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. I want to hear from those who have had encounters with the general media be it a good or bad experience, and what were the lessons learned, things to avoid, things to focus on etc.

It seems like shooting sports are often given a negative light in the media, yet these topics are rarely talked about.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 14:31   #2
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Positive, fun, safe, legal. We support safe and legal ownership and play. Watch how you answer questions about negative public opinion and fears.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 14:33   #3
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make sure you are careful when demonstrating the replicas, safe them, mag out, eye pro always, and so on, the basics
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Old April 17th, 2015, 14:46   #4
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Also make sure everyone AROUND you is practicing safe habits. Always that one guy who will see the kiddy behind you staring down the barrel of his newly bought Walmart gun to see why it isnt firing.

Also try to use gas guns, aegs make our sport look silly :3 (huehuehuehu)
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Old April 17th, 2015, 16:33   #5
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What's that "opportunity"?

A news report? A TV series about action sports? A documentary on gun violence? An investigative story? A local show about random hobbies in your city?

A lot would depend from what the production crew is looking for by reaching out to you...
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Old April 17th, 2015, 17:04   #6
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Try to keep your statements self contained, so that they can't be edited. That's a problem that a lot of people run into when talking to the media on topics that can get a lot of spin.

For example, if they ask: "these guns look like they could take out an eye. What happens when you get shot in the face?"

Do not: "Well, people shoot each other in the face a lot, and serious injuries can occur. Of course, people use properly rated eye pro, so those injuries are mitigated"
(That last sentence can just get edited straight out. Either on purpose, or just because the segment is short on time, and they had to "get the short and sweet point across")

Do: "Well, because we use ballistic rated eye pro, it is safe to shoot each other in the face without losing an eye".

It takes a lot of practice to spin a sentence like that, and keep it self contained, so don't focus on that point too much. But it's something to keep in mind.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 18:42   #7
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Asked them for the questions that they are going to ask so that you can prepare the answers.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 19:16   #8
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If ANYONE from CBC asks to shoot video, or do an interview; RUN don't walk the other way. That network in my personal experience is hopelessly extreme left wing and they are very biased against the sport.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 19:30   #9
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Agreed. Stay away from CBC.
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Old April 17th, 2015, 21:29   #10
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Originally Posted by Conker View Post
What's that "opportunity"?

A news report? A TV series about action sports? A documentary on gun violence? An investigative story? A local show about random hobbies in your city?
We are participating in a "community showcase" where other non-for profits will be displaying their programs. We will be expecting municipal (and possibly territorial) news. There will be no "entertainment" news.

Some other tips I have gotten are

1 make sure the news source is supposed to be there
2 make sure their motives are positive
3 don't say "no comment" about controversial issues,
4 use plain language or the most common "ten hundred" words
5 only answer the question, do not elaborate.
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Old April 21st, 2015, 18:26   #11
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I've worked in broadcast media for a few years, but am only somewhat familiar with print news.

Do not have a bunch of guns and be super excited to talk about how great your guns are. Most people don't relate to that at all and will immediately alienate people very quickly.

Don't go too full with the military gear/dressing like real life soldiers. Very easy to look bad. And if anyone at your field does the whole "playing like a WW2 german soldier" make sure they don't for the event.

Paper quotes can be weird... The worst thing you say can be quoted in papers. So keep it short, upbeat and fun. But keep in mind it's super easy to twist your words without changing anything.


"How come you play airsoft?"

"I've been into paintball since high school, and eventually met some friends who were into airsoft. I've been doing it for a few years now and met a ton of great people. And you know, I love collecting airsoft guns and *Laughs* it's just fun to go shoot your friends in the forest, ha ha!"

In a newspaper Could be printed as:

Bob's been playing airsoft since highschool, and has always been fascinated by guns. "It's just fun to go and shoot at your friends in the forest!"

I wouldn't worry too much about it though, since airsoft doesn't seem to be the focus. Unless you have someone say something particularly weird, or do something really dumb, they're not going to focus on it. More then likely would just be a passing shot, or a quick sound clip.
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Old April 21st, 2015, 19:28   #12
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Without going too "Jacques Derrida" into this, you should be aware that there are a few factors at play. The "intended audience", vs the "actual audience".... and what you mean to say, vs what you are actually saying. Or, in other words, the message that you think you are projecting may be interpreted much differently by the people who are writing it and reading it.

As someone who has been into mountain / rock / ice climbing for many years, I have had my share of media exposure. Just as Twelvecarpileup said, what you say is often taken out of context (by someone who, while well-meaning, has no idea what you actually do, has a pre-conceived notion of your activity, is trying to write for their intended audience, which is interpreted completely differently by the actual readers).

Long story short, keep it simple, fun, and politically correct. Hit on some key popular motivators like "exercise", "environmentalism" (respecting the environment while enjoying it), and "diversity" (people from all walks of life --and especially social status-- enjoy this sport. Nothing screams "respectable" like having a doctor, teacher, garbage-man and a student enjoying the same activity).
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Old April 22nd, 2015, 00:11   #13
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I also agree with most of the advice given and Brengun and twelvecarpileup are on point. I work for a municipal govt. and deal occasionally with media. Stress the positive aspects of the sport The health benefits and so on. Stress safety awareness and all the rest. When it comes to the guns minimize the fact a lot of them are 1 to 1 replicas or don't even mention it. Just be aware that in Ontario there has been a few arrests lately with people either brandishing or having in a vehicle a replica (airsoft) gun and it has been all over the news. Don't let them try to ask leading questions trying to link their article to those types of news stories. Just remember there are just as many if not more anti gun of any kind type people for every person into em and the rest of the population doesn't care as long as it doesn't affect them or their community. But the best way for the anti gun peeps to sway the others opinions is by pointing to the negative news just be careful.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 17:42   #14
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The event

So I just had the event. As far as I can tell, it was a success.

I was approached by 3 different media
-the event staff
-The local newspaper
-A reporter from the CBC

The event staff were really brief, just a couple of pictures and a media release.

The local newspaper wanted the same thing, but with a little expatiation about "what is all this"

The CBC was a little more interesting. They didn't actually approach me directly. They caught one of my guys coming out of the washroom and wanted to speak to him. After our morning media brief he did the right thing and said nothing, just redirect him to me. The reporter quietly turned on his recorder. I was watching, I was ready. The very first question he asked me was something like this, "The last report I did about airsoft was after the RCMP responded to a young man who pointed a pistol out a window." I had been keeping up with the news and already knew about that story. I had an answer prepared. I said something along the lines of "These guns do look very realistic and one should always treat them just the same as if they were a real firearm." He seemed disappointed that I didn't give him the answer he wanted. The conversation took a very sharp turn from there with real substantial questions such as talking about the event and volunteer options, and was quite brief.

The guys listening to the conversation are confident I didn't give him what he was looking for. Only time will tell to see if I did a good enough job.

Thank you to everyone who contributed.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 14:50   #15
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That's good to hear, from what you're saying you have nothing to worry about. If you had talked more, or had a less professional answer it'd be useful.

From my experience, for side stories you don't really follow up with them unless you have a good start (IE - You said something that'd make a great quote). I love the CBC and have many friends who work there, but they are not going to be publishing positive stories on CBC anytime soon.
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