Created: August 26, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Updated: September 2, 2020 | By Community Resource Kit
The media (newspaper, online, TV or radio) is probably the most effective channel for voluntary and community organisations to communicate a message to the outside world.
The public gets much of its information on events and issues from the media, so it is influential in framing public perception and also setting the public policy agenda.
Community groups can use the media to:
Some advantages of using the media include:
An ongoing relationship with the media, based on respect and professional integrity, will stand your organisation in good stead and help raise your public profile. Once such a relationship is established, it should make any future contact with the media easier.
Keys to good working relationships with the media include:
Pitfalls to avoid when working with the media include:
News usually interests a general audience rather than just a few individuals. Generally speaking, newsworthy events are new events, but something can also be presented in a way that looks new. Timing plays a large part in newsworthiness, as does a link to some other major event or news.
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether something is newsworthy:
Your approach to the media should be well planned and executed. Some guidelines include:
When the media calls you, do not respond with impromptu comments unless your group has already agreed:
If the media call is unexpected or relates to a contentious or tricky issue take some time to compose your response:
A media kit is a collection of printed information you have about your group. It might be a single page or a series of flyers and brochures of information about your group. Also have this information in document or PDF form to email to the media or available online. Include:
Before an event make sure all the key people associated with the event have a copy of your media kit and are familiar with its contents. Send or email your media kit to the media, which could include:
Make your photographs uncluttered and interesting. Take pictures of people doing something and being active. Have good focus, contrast and exposure and get close to the action. Provide a caption with the date, event, the activity and the names of the people if possible. Ask permission to use the names of people in the pictures.
Have digital photographs in high resolution so that you can use them in your own newsletters or supply the media if requested.
Write a media release for any event or announcement. The release can be sent out to media as a follow-up to a preliminary phone call. It is the key to building a successful relationship with any media and should accompany all approaches for news coverage.
A Notice of Event is an invitation to an event you are organising; it is sent to media at least a week before the event. Explain what is happening, when, where and why, who will be attending. Give a summary of events so that the media knows if it is appropriate to send a photographer to your event.
A Notice of Event does not require quotes from anyone, but it is essential to include a contact name and phone number so the media can arrange the best time to attend your event.
A media release needs to 'inform' people, not sell them something. If you are new to writing a media release, grab the latest daily newspaper and read some of their articles or find someone to help who has the necessary experience.
Media release checklist
A checklist of things to remember when writing a media release are:
- head the release MEDIA RELEASE
- give it a punchy, succinct title
- date it
- state the source of the release i.e. who it is from
- use the first sentence and the first paragraph (the intro) to convey the main message i.e. the essence of what you want to communicate
- focus on what is unique and interesting about your story
- give as many facts as possible (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?)
- write in a simple straightforward style
- use active language e.g. write 'Large crowds attended the opening' rather than 'The opening was attended by large crowds'
- make the release as short as you can (seven paragraphs is a usual maximum)
- remember that anything you say may be put at the beginning and used as the main point of your story
- have a spokesperson, preferably one of your group's office holders, use direct quotes
- format double-spaced with wide margins using one side of A4 paper
- write "ends" at the end of the media release
- give names and contact details for people who can offer more information, or might be interviewed at length or for a 'sound-bite'
- give media outlets (radio, TV, newspapers etc.) equal opportunity.
Sample media release
[Headline] Young people raising their voices
[Introduction or angle]
READ MY LIPS is an exciting one-day event, aimed at getting young people's voices heard by society's decision-makers.
[This paragraph answers the what? question, as well as giving an interesting angle or fact to get the reader's interest. It shouldn't be longer than 35 words.]
The READ MY LIPS event has been created by a group of young people from Wellington wanting to encourage more youth to speak out about the issues that are important to them. The event, on 15 May, at the Smith Hall in Wellington, aims to fire up their thoughts and passions and offer help with ways to get their voices heard.
[This paragraph has the when? and who? questions.]
READ MY LIPS secretary Jo Bloggs says the event offers training workshops for young people.
It's about how to write submissions, organise events, and other ways to get their voices out to the public. Young people will be talking about local and global youth issues, and encourage others to speak out on things that are important to them.
[This paragraph gives more information about the event and who will attend.]
Young people are often overlooked by our politicians and our voices aren't often heard. We are here to share the skills to make a change and get our message out there, said Jo.
[Quote from someone involved in the event, which also answers the why? question.]
READ MY LIPS
15 November 2020
10am - 3pm
Smith Hall, Wellington.
For more information contact: Jo Bloggs, Ph 123 4567, firstname.lastname@example.org
Who do you want to know about your event or group? Have a list of the media you want to contact. Is it local media, regional media or the whole country, or international? Have a list of all appropriate media and choose the ones you want for each media release. List the info@email addresses, or generic newsroom addresses, not individual email addresses because journalists might be out of the office.
Find out how each newsroom wants to receive information. Some do not like to have attachments to emails and prefer you to cut and paste your media release in the body of the email. You can follow up your media release with a phone call to newsrooms you particularly want to target.
Upload the media release to your own website and link from your social media and blog pages. Email links to your associate groups so they know what's happening.
You can opt to send your media release through one of the online news outlets. Websites such as Scoop (http://www.scoop.co.nz/ ) and Newsroom (https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ ) publish media releases directly at no charge.
For many people, being interviewed by the media can be a stressful experience. To get your message across clearly and make the most of an interview, it pays to be prepared.
Some general tips on interviews for radio, TV or print include:
Specific tips for TV and radio interviews are:
Tip: For more tips on preparing for a media interview, visit: https://fullcirc.com/resources/preparing-for-a-media-interview/
If you feel you have been misquoted, your comments taken out of context, or that you have been unfairly treated, there are procedures for correcting or complaining about what the media has said. These include:
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