Tools to help build media relations and get your story heard
Not-for-profits have important stories to share with the public, but how do they ensure their stories get heard and picked up by the media?
In Hamilton, ON, The Hamilton Spectator
and Mohawk College
run a Media Relations Summer Camp
that gives local non-profits, community groups and associations the opportunity to learn more about social media, media relations, on-camera interviews, and writing op-eds and letters to the editor. Jay Robb, Director of Communications for Mohawk College, shares Start Spreading the News
, a media primer for not-for-profit organizations.
4 ways to make your story newsworthy:
Why should we care?
Answer this to make your stories newsworthy… don’t just talk about yourself
Why tell the story now?
Respond to an issue that’s in the news or that the community is talking about now
What’s new with your story?
Is it a first for the community, or for non-profits – make it exclusive. Is it something that’s unexpected or unusual
Build your pitch around a person
(1 real person) – use their single compelling story (not ED or board chair necessarily)
Don’t spend time on media releases. It's better to make quick pitches through email that includes 3-4 sentences that answer the 4 questions above.
Pitch to the right reporter – Reporters' contact information can be found online – watch the newspaper to see who is covering what topic
Never include an attachment in your email
Make the subject line the headline for a future article
Be clear, concise and short
Send only to one reporter – pitch to only that one
What’s in your pitch?
Give a real person and their contact information
Be clear about the pitch
Let them know exactly what they are going to see – be precise
Include all your contact information as well as all other pertinent information
How to give stand-out interviews
Be bold, be brief, be quiet
Be memorable – quotes that add personality to the story
Be brief – no more than 10 seconds on radio or 1-2 sentences on radio – work on them before the interview
Be quiet – pregnant pause – don’t stray off message or rush to fill in dead air
Be yourself – don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Be authenthic.
View it as building a long term relationship
Never ask to review the story before it runs
Don’t ask for a copy of the story of the media clip from the reporter
You are on the record from the moment you start talking
Reporters don’t write headlines – don’t hurt them for that
Don’t be high maintenance – be helpful not hurtful
Don’t pretend that your reporter is your best friend – keep it professional
Story Telling Angles
Become a resident expert (be known for something so that media will call you for local comments to provincial/territorial or national stories). They may also call for simplifying complex ideas. Be known for your passion.
Raise your own profile – win awards, give speeches, write op-eds, talk on panels
Follow reporters on social media and engage with them there – raise your profile on social media
Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor
Here’s the problem, here’s the solution, and a call to action. Less than 700 words and tied to something people are talking about
The Media Training Bible
by Brad Phillips
Ready to be a Thought Leader
by Denise Brosseau
10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech
by Fletcher Dean
by David Meerman Scott
Start Spreading the News
What Journalists Want