Every now and then, you will see a paranormal group pop up in the media. It might be a newspaper or magazine article, a radio spot or even for some a quick TV spot. On a smaller scale, it could be an interview on a blog or website and more commonly a spot on an online paranormal podcast. It is seen by many as their opportunity to get a little recognition for the work they are doing and rightly so. We work bloody hard and there is nothing wrong with getting a little recognition as well as using the platform to spread our experience and thoughts. The problem is, it doesn't always go to plan!
When someone from the paranormal field appears in the mainstream media, the marketing or journalists behind it need to find a way to make it relate to the wider public. The only way they know how to do that is to refer to us as 'Ghostbusters'. Other words they like to use to sensationalize what we do are terms such as paranormal sleuth, professional paranormal investigator and paranormal expert. Usually, this is all said while the Ghostbusters theme music is playing in the background. More often than not, this creates some backlash over the choice of words that the media has chosen to describe the individuals. 'How can someone be a professional paranormal investigator it must mean they rip people off?' is a common comment I see. "There are no experts in the paranormal!" Is probably one of the more common phrases to cause an uproar. What is important for us to remember before we judge, is that the person being interviewed most likely doesn't refer to themselves as an expert or a professional, in fact, they will often say in the interview there are no experts. This is a term the journalist has used to label them, not a label they gave themselves so we should cut the person a little slack! No, they don't go door to door conning people out of money and in fact, a lot of people will not charge to help someone who thinks their house is haunted. People that pay to use paranormal services or attend tours do so willingly.
We need to remember that journalists are trained to spruce up a story so not only do they refer to us as ghostbusters to resonate with the audience, but they also have to talk up the people being interviewed so that the public think they are worth listening to instead of changing the channel. While they are definitely worth listening to, people that are not in the paranormal field don't know this, so the media have to talk them up using the most descriptive words they can think of so people don't tune out. We shouldn't be crucifying the people who are being interviewed by the media using these words to describe them. They are on there to try to tell people what it is we really do, but sadly they aren't always given the opportunity to do so in a 2-minute segment. The media write the script and questions for the hosts and they move onto the next story, but the person involved is the one that has to deal with the repercussions or the backlash associated with it and this isn't fair. They have to answer the questions given to them and they are not allowed to ad-lib and there are certain words and phrases they will not be allowed to say on live television. Remember journalism = sensationalism and they have to hype things up to draw in the viewer. They aren't worried about how the person is portrayed, they have an overall narrative they are wanting to achieve. It means we have to just get used to the fact that if we are going to be on radio or tv, that there will be the ghostbuster and expert references. It is not necessarily a reflection of the person being interviewed. They may have a lot to say and share, but will only be given a couple of minutes to sum up a number of years of experience. If you are lucky enough to have one of these opportunities, hold your head high, brush off the ghostbuster references and just be you. Sure there will be negative comments and there always are, but be proud of your achievements and the work you do.
A lot of breakfast radio stations often do spots with paranormal teams. They are light-hearted and a bit of fun. You have to be prepared that if you are going into one of these situations, they may not take everything seriously and you have to be able to have a bit of a laugh at yourself. These segments I find can come off quite well when the people involved are 'in on the joke' so to speak. There is a way you can conduct yourself to get your point across without taking yourself so seriously and this comes off really well to your audience. If you go into one of these situations super seriously and take offence to the jokes, it isn't going to go well. We don't have to be serious all of the time and it is important to have a bit of a laugh. When it comes to things like breakfast radio, it isn't groundbreaking journalism, it is entertainment for people on the way to work. If you know what to expect before you go in, you will enjoy yourself, have a bit of fun and get your message out at the same time. Remember, if this is not for you, say no thanks and get on with your day!
There is so much online content at the moment revolving around the paranormal field, and it is fantastic. There are blogs, websites, youtube channels and podcasts. Podcasts are very much the up and coming thing at the moment. They are usually run by people with a big interest in the paranormal or who are investigators themselves. Each week they have a new guest from the paranormal field which allows them to highlight the work that they do. This is the perfect environment for you to share your thoughts. They aren't going to refer to you as a ghostbuster or play the music in the background. They won't come up with tag lines like a paranormal sleuth. It will be honest talk that will allow you to share your thoughts on different things in the paranormal field and the work that you have been doing. They won't be making fun of you or the paranormal in general and if they do, it is in a fun light-hearted way because they love and respect the field just like you do. While it may not be a super serious interview, you still have an opportunity to freely get your thoughts across. The people tuning in to these podcasts are people who are into the paranormal and not the average person watching morning tv so there is also likely to be a lot less of the typical negative comments that seem to follow mainstream media appearances. I have done magazine and newspaper interviews in the past, but for me, I prefer podcasts. I find it more like a chat with friends rather than doing an interview. It allows me to share my thoughts and work with like-minded people.
No matter which platform it is, whenever someone is given the opportunity to highlight their work, the little green monster in others seems to raise its ugly head. There will be people who are jealous of the fact that you are in the spotlight for your 15 minutes instead of them. It comes with the territory and you have to just ignore it. Don't let anyone make you feel like you don't deserve to take credit for your work. You work hard and there is nothing wrong with going public with your thoughts. The field is about education and we look to those with experience and knowledge to share that with the rest of us. If we constantly put them down for sharing their thoughts, a day will come where they won't share them anymore and this is a massive loss. If you see someone getting their 15 minutes, be happy for them. Don't put them down. Your time will come. It may not be now but it will. If you desperately want to appear on a podcast or website, reach out to them and ask if they are looking for guests. Don't dismiss someone else's work because you think you are more deserving. You don't know what goes on behind the scenes and how much work they have put into something. You may not agree with them, but the field is about listening to different viewpoints. Most people go into it wanting to share their thoughts for others to learn and benefit from. Content creators do just that. They create content that they think others will enjoy and maybe learn something from. Why shouldn't people be able to share their thoughts publicly? If you can't find a media outlet that you think matches you, create your own! What is stopping you from making a website or podcast?
Putting yourself out there is difficult and I know it is something I struggle with if I am not in control of the narrative. I guess I have been misquoted one too many times. I have also been on podcasts or radio which looking back now, I probably wouldn't be on that same program or associate myself with that person again. That is life unfortunately and we can only learn and not dwell on hindsight. I have had my photo in a magazine and done the newspaper thing, I don't need to really do that anymore. My blog is my public platform and while I happily appear on some podcasts, it is only with people I am comfortable with. I now turn down a lot of opportunities simply because I prefer writing rather than talking. I guess I am pretty bad at publicising myself in that regard but this is what works for me because everyone is different. When it comes to mainstream media it can be hard when you have a journalist writing an article and you have provided quotes. I know I have been misquoted in the past and they have a way of 'spinning' things to match the narrative of their piece. You may go into it with the best intentions, but when you are not in control of the final product, you are in their hands. It is a lesson many have learnt. I even know of people who have been on paranormal reality television shows and have been unhappy with how they were presented. Remember media is for entertainment and if you don't have that creative control, you don't have a say in how you are portrayed. It can be a gamble.
It is up to you to decide what works best for you. You don't have to accept every media opportunity that comes your way. If you are not happy with it or you have reserved feelings, you can say no. Only you can decide what is best for you and whether it is mainstream media or paranormal media the decision is yours and yours alone. Be supportive of others and remember next time you 'judge' someone that has appeared in the media, it is not them coming out and saying they are a ghostbuster or paranormal expert, it is the journalist in control of the piece. If there is someone you don't like or they say something you don't like or agree with, there is no need to be nasty about it, you can keep scrolling! The way I see it, think about how you would feel if you finally got the courage to put yourself out there and someone made a horrible comment to you? If you wouldn't want someone doing it to you, don't do it to them! There are always going to be negative comments but if you rise above it, stay away from reading social media, you can enjoy the experience and end up with memories to last a lifetime. Media opportunities can be a great way to promote tours and locations and reach a whole new audience. It is free publicity. There is nothing wrong with getting your 15 minutes of fame - just make sure it is for all the right reasons!
Have you had an experience with media that didn't come off the way you hoped? Tell me below!
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