Guidelines for Working with All Media
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Whether you’re looking to have your organization’s opinion considered in a public conversation, respond to an incident, or get press coverage of a program or initiative that benefits the community in a creative way, tapping the media can be a powerful way to get your message out. There are several options for communicating with the media. You can:
- Write a letter to the editor of your daily/weekly newspaper
- Write—or ask someone else to write—an op-ed for your newspaper
- Respond to bloggers or online news
- Send out media advisories and press releases to all local media: print, radio, television, and Internet
Regardless of which medium you choose, it is crucial to exercise the appropriate protocol and courtesies that make it easier for press to cover your story. Use the tips below to understand the best ways to work with the media and to amplify your chances for getting good coverage.
Have a purpose
Communicate your purpose clearly and at the beginning of your correspondence.
Keep your comments short and simple
Whether you are writing a response to an online blog or sending a press release, the reader should be able to understand what is happening in the first sentence or two.
Be clear and accurate
- Check your written outreach (be it a letter to the editor, op-ed, media advisory, press release, or response to online media) for clarity and accuracy
- Check carefully for correct dates, spelling, facts, and phone numbers
- Double check spellings of names and organizations
- Avoid technical terms and jargon
- Do not use an acronym to refer to an organization, program, or legislation the first time
Include quotations from relevant people when you write letters to the editor, op-eds, media advisories, or press releases or when you respond to online media. The individuals you quote could be community leaders or third-party validators. Let the quotes help tell your story.
Translate your message for real people
Use the “brother-in-law test” to ensure that you’ve avoided acronyms, jargon, rhetoric, mission statement talk, and inside lingo. That is,test your message on people who have no prior knowledge of the industry or field. They should be able to understand your key concepts and takeaways. Statistics and data also go a long way toward lending credence to your cause and helping a reporter grasp your message.
Identify the best messenger
Designate a spokesperson and a backup. Both should be able to articulate the essence of your organization’s mission, policies and priorities, and should be aware of what information is or is not confidential. If it is a photography opportunity or video interview, ensure their appearance is reflective of your organization’s professional status.
This resource is adapted, with permission, from Media Matters: The Complete Guide to Getting Positive Media Attention, on the Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC, website. Review the full guide at http://bit.ly/2aHvZDm.