Firstly, ask what they need help with. Second, pay attention to peculiarities of the region. Third, focus on the positive by touching on the practical content.
To reach out to regional media we should ask, how they can be useful and how we can be useful for them instead of imposing our outlook. This opinion was expressed by Oleksandr Dyachenko, head of the legal department of the Ukrainian Association of Press Publishers during the discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “It is necessary to create what is useful for them, the materials that are of interest to their readers. We should be kind of editors instead of media, as such,” he believes. Ihor Rozkladay, lawyer at Media Law Institute, emphasized that it is important to clearly understand who the target audience is. “They should understand the level of audience and its needs. If the audience is told how well it will live, but actually it knows how much “palm oil” it takes to do this, this approach will come to no good,” he stressed.
According to Taras Kuzmov, independent expert, the establishment of personal contacts is of fundamental importance. “Press releases and very efficient competent opinions do not work. Only if we establish the exclusive level of relationships, we will manage to get across to them. Every so often we have neither time nor patience for this. But as long as regions feel that they are in the mass mailing, nothing will result from our efforts,” believes Mr. Kuzmov.
Oleksandr Dyachenko noted that it is necessary to work with the editors first of all, as they decide whether one or another topic will be of interest to their media. The same view is shared by Mr. Kuzmov. “Instead of “some journalists,” there are centers of editorial decision making. We should start from the realization that editors are stakeholders who have their interest,” he believes.
What’s special about the regions?
It is important to establishing personal contacts, additionally, the experts noted that it is necessary to get acquainted with the regions. Mr. Kuzmov said that it is necessary to understand the specifics of the region. What is cool and important in one region, will not work in the other. There should be a basic thorough monitoring of what is happening in the regions. Ihor Rozkladay noted that there are traditionally active and passive regions. “Volyn and Cherkasy journalists are active. And, problems appear, for example, in Khmelnytsky. However, there are many lazy journalists even in Kyiv. The same is true of not only journalists but also NGOs,” he stressed.
What kind of content is of interest?
Mr. Rozkladay believes that negativism is a systemic and psychological problem. “People are living on a small salary in monotonous environment; that is why they get ready for negativity. Only civil society focuses on positivity,” he noted. Oleksandr Dyachenko emphasized that there is also a demand for constructive, useful household content: how to buy property; US dollar exchange rate and so on.
Experts’ opinions differed as to whether people are willing to pay more for higher quality materials. “People are tired of seamy sides and amusement; they want to see analytics, but are not willing to pay 7 instead of 3 hryvnias,” believes Yana Mashkova, project coordinator of the Institute of Mass Information. But Mr. Dyachenko noted that those media that will give practical answers to everyday questions will always be in demand.
Ms. Mashkova informed that regional media often complain about the lack of experts who could comment on the particular situation. That is why a base of 500 experts has been created. These experts have not been exposed as paid journalists; they comment only on the things they know and behave appropriately in social media.