Why miners need media training: Drill results are not news.

Robert Simpson

Robert Simpson

President & CEO

For the last 20 years, Robert has specialized in strategic communication and public relations, focusing his passion for storytelling to help organizations achieve greater impact. As PR Associates’ leader, Robert plays a role in collaborating with clients and our teams to develop strategies and create experiences that deepen audience engagement.

Ask any business journalist in the national press what annoys them the most about the mineral exploration industry and they’ll tell you the same thing…“Drill results are not news.

As a former business journalist who covered the mining sector, I know what they mean. Weekly, I would receive literally hundreds of calls, emails, and in those days, faxes from eager Investor Relation professionals pitching a story that went something like this – “I hope you have seen our recent drill results which extended the deposit along strike and depth confirming the company has potential of the next world-class mineral deposit.”

Over my 15 years as a national business journalist, I only covered one company’s drill results, those at Bre-X’s Busang Project, mostly because they were just too good to be true, which later turned out to be the case.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t write articles about the mineral exploration industry, because I did.  I wrote about industry leaders’ rags to riches stories, about the major gold, copper and zinc camps that were discovered internationally, mergers and acquisitions, the first diamond discoveries in Canada’s North, human interest stories and about the conflict between mineral explorers and communities. I wrote stories my editors assigned, based on what they thought our readers (audience) were interested in.

I’ve been pitched thousands of stories over the years and I’d say for every hundred bad story pitches there is one good.  So, when I received a well-thought out pitch from a mineral exploration company, more than a news release listing drill holes and an Investor Relations person follow-up call, they stood out.  For example, when a company called me to explain they had discovered a large tungsten deposit in the Yukon, much of which would be sold to the US Army to make non-toxic bullets and remove almost 1,000 tons of toxic lead from the environment a year, I jumped on the story. This was news and the story almost wrote itself.

What struck me about the successful story pitches was the person who called or wrote a pitch, understood my audience, was following the trends in the industry and knew how to tell a good story. Their sources were prepared to speak on the record, had the necessary expertise and prepared with reliable sources and facts. Most often they had been media trained and understood how a newsroom worked, what made news and how to successfully tell their story while weaving in their own messages.

Mining Communications: Speak to Your Audience

I also noted that successful spokespeople are authentic and genuinely believe in their own message. They are naturally the same people on-camera as off. They’re flexible and know that breaking news, technical issues, or a shifting storyline can change the nature of their interview with little notice. They speak to their audience. They know that their function during an interview is to forge a direct connection with each person reading or hearing their words. They self-edit. Great media spokespersons know that their job is to reduce information to its most essential parts and to simplify. They know not to try to say everything since doing so muddles their message and confuses their audience and finally, they know how to express their points in a compelling manner. They know how to use stories, statistics, and sound bites to make their messages stand out, and are adept at coining phrases that stick in the minds of every member of the audience.

Mining Media Training: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: you’ll get a lot more positive media coverage if you are media trained to energetically delivering a credible and memorable story that you genuinely believe in, is newsworthy and compelling.

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