Media relations is a wonderfully cost-effective way to generate support for your organization. And it’s not hard to do! With just three easy steps, you could be on your way to seeing your organization in the news.
1. Develop a media list.
a. Define your audience(s). Who do you want to communicate with? Clients? Potential donors? Voters? Other organizations?
b. Describe your audience(s). Where do they live? How old are they? What do they do for a living? Do you know what their media habits are? Do they know who you are?
c. Develop a list of target media. Use the information you collected about your audience to identify appropriate television stations and programming, radio shows, and newspapers. Depending on your audience, you could also add magazines (including trade and association), influential websites/blogs/social media commentators. Research the media that will best reach your audiences. Look at the media outlet’s demographics and see if they have an editorial calendar (look under advertising on their websites). This will confirm a good fit and show opportunities to provide timely content.
d. Identify a contact. For each media outlet, find a named person to communicate with. Find out who covers your industry, or the most appropriate person to contact. This information is on their website, or call and ask. Research that person as much as possible. Look up their bio, read past articles, etc.
2. Create amazing content
a. Develop story ideas and messages. Stories can be situation-based or subject-based. Most people think of media relations in terms of publicizing an event or program, but stories can also be developed around a subject to be submitted in a timely way, i.e. summer reading, fall fashion, holiday planning, etc. Use the information you collect about your audience to develop story ideas. What would interest them? Story ideas are less about what you want to communicate and more about what your audience wants to hear.
b. Put together a press kit. Develop background information about your organization. This can include history, accomplishments, facts, etc. Identify spokespeople and experts and provide photos and short bios. It’s important to develop a short paragraph identifying who you are, who you serve, and what you contribute. This text should be used every time you give information to the media to set up a consistent foundation. Format attractively and create a supply of print copies, post on your website, and have available as a pdf.
3. Pitch your stories
a. Get in touch with your media contacts. How you get in touch with them and the format of your messages depends on the type of media you are approaching. Most pitches are made via email or telephone, but can also be made via tweet, blog post, or Facebook entry. They can also be made in person. You can create a formal press release, or not. The most important thing about your pitch is that the story idea is interesting, relevant, and timely for their audience.
b. Make the reporter’s job easy. Assign one person as the main media contact for your organization. Provide all necessary details, photos, video, and background information via links or attachments. Be aware of their deadlines and be as responsive as possible to their requests.
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