Working with the Media

  • Newsworthiness—An important first step in working with the media is to access whether or not your story is newsworthy. There may be issues very dear to you that do not resonate in the same way with a reporter. It may be to your advantage to wait for a major issue to come up before contacting a reporter for the first time. If you succeed in selling an issue that turns into a story, the second time around your credibility will help get you the next story.
  • Be specific—Reporters work from facts. Feed them information that generates the story. Consider counterpoints that might be used to undermine your positions to build your arguments.
  • Media list—Develop an extensive list of media outlets and personnel in your area.
  • Press releases—This is the vehicle through which you sell your story to the press. Press releases should be concise, well written documents that ideally become the basis for articles by reporters. Provide pertinent information including the what, where, why and when of your story. You need to include the names of organizations of people involved with the issue.
  • Timing—It is essential to have a sense of timing with news releases. You have to get your release out so that the information will be picked up and printed by the media in a timely manner.
  • Content—Include the most important facts early in your press release. The media has limited space with which to work. Frequently not all of your press release will appear in print, so mention the most important details early in your release.
  • Photo opportunities—A picture or video clips often resonate well with the public and can be used to compliment your written press releases. A ribbon cutting ceremony, for example, with a supportive lawmaker or government employee is an effective way to recognize your partners in a project.
  • News conferences—Use a news conference to convey important information to a group of reporters at once. Because you will take the time of reporters, news conferences must be associated with ground breaking issues. Working relationships with reporters may be strained if you ask them to come to a press conference that does not live up the newsworthy criteria. When you have a news conference, supply visual and audio effects to project your story to television and radio, and a press release for all media.