This is a brief look at how you can get your message out using the media. And for that you will need a plan so that your communication is effective. However you don't need to be a professional PR, Marketing or Communications person to do that. You need to be a good communicator for your organisation.
Decide who will be your contact for the media and make sure all staff and volunteers and your governing body know that person and know to refer any media enquires to them. Sometimes there may be more than one contact, for example you may have your Chairperson, CEO and the project Manager all available for comment. Make sure they work together and have a guide on the key messages so that they give the same messages out. It pays to inform all staff of any pending media coverage to keep them informed also.
Then you will need to look at the media. Newspaper, Magazine, Radio or TV or a combination of these can be effective getting your message to those you want to hear it. Cultivate good relationships with your local media. They are the ones who are more likely to publish a community issue and often may give a photo opportunity. The regional papers need some regional interest or political/issue content and National Media go for the big issues with nationwide appeal or they may produce a specfic feature with a lot of articles on one issue. Remember also the special interest magazines and media, and comment via letters to the editor are also great ways to get your message out.
Now, what is news worthy?
Your idea of a news worthy item might be light years apart from a journalist's.
Consider some of the following before putting time into a press release or contacting a journalist:
Is it: unique, new, never been done before, political, about people or communities and those affected, humourous, controversial. In other words what is the hook or point of interest. Many things can be of interest such as:
- anniversaries and awards that have an event or presentation. Always celebrate your successes.
- money - how you received it or why you need it.
- new services or products.
- advocacy, political comment and contorversial statements.
- research - facts and figures.
So you now have a news story with an interesting angle. Think about WHO your audience is and WHAT MESSAGE you want to communicate to them. And look at which media will be interested. You also need to be very clear on your organisation and the mission, vision and goals that you want to achieve.
Some issues can be covered by a press release but for a major media campaign you will need to plan and produce a press kit that has background information, a press release, pictures, a calendar of events, a list of contacts and spokespeople, a success story or case study and other relevant material. If you can get a celebrity or local personality to an event this is also a good selling point to the media.
Key elements and content of a press release.
Always date any press release. If the story is time sensitive have an embargo clearly stated.
Short and to the point. It needs to summarise the article. Don't spend to much time word smithing as most journalists will come up with their own.
This is where we explain why this story is newsworthy. Use your interesting angle at this point eg the first, new, launch etc
Now give the who, what, why, when, where and how.
Spokesperson or Quotes (third, fourth paragraphs. Use as many as you need)
Make quotes memorable, relevant and up beat. Supply more than one and if possible from more than one spokesperson so that the journalist can choose which to use.
This lets journalist know they have all the copy. If your press release runs over more than one page put more in the footer.
Notes to the editor
Keep this separate after the END to keep the press release short and to the point. This can include a summary of your organisation and other background that is relevant.
Point out relevant websites.
Simply provide details on how to get in contact. Supply telephone number at work and out of hours.
When writing remember:
Language you use needs to be clear and concise.
Think about your target audience and write appropriately.
Use the third person e.g he, she it and they if possible.
Try to avoid industry jargon and technical language.
Acronyms need to spelt out the first time you use them e.g Funding Information Service then FIS can be used throughout the rest of the article.
People need to have name and title first time used and then shortened after. Eg Natasha McDougall, Marketing Manager then use Natasha said etc.
Read it out, check it and have someone else check all information and spelling before sending it out.