Working With The Media
It is a very powerful way of communicating with people in your area. Editorial – news and feature stories in the media - is credited with being six times as powerful as advertising.
Local newspapers in particular have a voice that people listen to. They act as the eyes and ears of local communities. More than three quarters of people who read local newspapers take action as a result. This makes trusted local newspapers are an important and effective vehicle for communicating with members of the local community.
What is news?
Local media are interested in local news, so it’s important to make sure that you have a strong ‘news’ story to tell them before you call.
News is the plural of new so, if what you have to tell the media about is ‘new’, then it’s news. However, if it’s not ‘new’, you can take the following word test to double check if it’s news. If any of the following words apply to your story, then it’s still news:
- Break through
- First in…. Increase
- Launch / launches
- Record breaking
How to tell the media about your news
When you are confident that you have a strong news story to tell your local media, the best way to contact them is by telephone. Simply call and say you would like to speak to someone about a local news story. For a newspaper, you will normally be passed to a reporter or the editor. At a radio station, you will usually be passed to the news desk.
Before you call, make sure you know exactly what you are going to say. A good way to plan ahead is to think of the story you want to tell them and to write down the answers to the following questions, known as the 5 Ws:
Use the answers to these questions to write a short and snappy paragraph - no longer than 3 sentences - to use as a script when you speak to the journalist. Introduce yourself first and then tell them about your news story.
If they are interested, they may ask you for more details or, if appropriate, make arrangements with you for interviews or photography.
If you are asked for more information, you may wish to write and send a press release. The press release should have a headline and an opening paragraph that includes the 5 Ws. The rest of the press release should provide any supporting information in a logical order, written in a clear and concise way; and you should ensure that your contact details are included at the end.
Unfortunately, as you don’t pay for PR like you do for advertising, there is no guarantee your story will appear...
- when you want it to appear
- the way you want it to appear
This is because you are in competition with all the other new stories that are available to appear in the media at the time you take them your story. That is why you need to think very carefully about what stories you take to the media and how you tell the media about them.
Working with the media can be hard work but can also be good fun and is an important way to communicate important anti-stigma messages to local communities.