Role of the Media

Media includes newspapers, periodicals, magazines, newsletters, television, and radio. You can purchase media time or space, or you can attract "earned media." Earned media is free, positive news coverage that you get by working with media. It includes coverage such as a television special, talk radio interview, coverage on the evening news, or a printed article in the newspaper. Tips for getting earned media:

  • Invite media to cover your topic by sending a news release to media outlets
  • Be prepared to concisely express your primary message in a sentence or two
  • Provide media with a fact sheet that includes facts, data, and web links that support your points
  • "Put a face on it." Tell a true story that illustrates your points.
  • Provide a positive image—don't come across as just blaming agencies who have failed; talk about how the outcome you seek will make your community better.
  • Provide visual interest. For example, invite them on a bicycling audit or to an event.
  • Be prepared to answer hostile and off-subject questions, such as "isn't the problem simply drunk pedestrians walking at night in dark clothing?"

Earned media is most effective when combined with a campaign strategy. A campaign is a multi-faceted effort that includes a variety of materials and methods to spread your message. For example, a campaign could include printed brochures, web-based information or BLOG, newsletters, stickers handed out at events, interviews on talk radio, and a printed article.

For maximum impact, create a partnership with media in which they sponsor a program that supports your goals. Examples include:

  • Newspaper editor writes a supporting editorial
  • Newspaper offers space for a pedestrian or bicycle article in one of their cyclical inserts
  • Radio or television sponsor a daily or weekly pedestrian safety tips program

See Initiate Change for additional information about the power of partnering with media to achieve your outcome.