Earning Good Media Coverage

20 09 2010

This chapter goes over numerous pointers for earning good media coverage and gives examples of media for nonprofits to seek out.  The chapter lists 6 main tips for earning good coverage:

  1. Cultivate personal media contacts
  2. Understand media cultures
  3. Pitch story ideas regularly
  4. Prepare for media interviews
  5. Organize press conferences and briefings
  6. Influence the influentials

Cultivate Personal Media Contacts

Forming relationships with media personnel is extremely important and often it is this relationship that gains media coverage.  This takes a lot of research and work.  A nonprofit organization should research which reporters cover issues similar to their organization’s issues.

Understand Media Cultures

This chapter notes the importance of understanding the media’s culture and how it works.  This means being acknowledagble of deadlines, how a media organization likes to receive press releases, what a particular reporter’s preference of contact is, always making yourself available to the media, etc.  This knowledge will be helpful when pitching stories and attempting to form relationships.

Pitch Story Ideas Regularly

Assume the reporter is always on information overload and follow up with a personal phone call to see if he/she received the press release.  Also, have all materials available to re-send if need be.  When speaking with the media be concise and get to the “who, what, when, where, why and how.”  This is the information they want to hear.

Prepare for Media Interviews

Media interviews should not be taken lightly and involve a lot of preparation.  Give your spokesperson in advance  information about the reporter, the media outlet, the number and types of stories likely to appear and the likely questions.  Rehearse answers to the likely questions and review the organization’s message points with your spokesperson.  Brief the reporter on your organization’s goals and mission and prepare a one page fact sheet for the reporter.

Organize Press Conferences and Briefings

Briefings and press conferences are a good way to familiarize reporters with an organization’s spokespeople and the organization’s goals, mission and issue.  This allows the organization to gain media coverage and allows them to control what is being said.

Influence the Influentials

The influentials in the media business are the gatekeepers. They are the editors, opinion columnists and editorial columnists.  They control what gets coverage and what doesn’t.  These are the people that will need to be informed about your organization and the ones that you will need to convince to gain coverage.  The key is to pitch stories that combines ACTUAL news with VISUALS.  This is the current trend that media gatekeepers are looking for.

Overall, I found these tips extremely relevant not only to nonprofit organizations, but to any organization.  In particular I have identified a few areas that our client Safe Harbor needs to improve.  I will later post my PR proposal for this organization.