When looking for publicity, the media will be interested to hear either (1) your expertise (2) your story. It is not enough to just share about funding, or even an event you want coverage at. If you are trying to get coverage for either of those, show the story (e.g. why it is important, and why they should cover it – tell a compelling story).
Creating Media Lists
Create a list of all local media including newspapers (weeklies, dailies), radio stations and TV stations.
- Identify key people for each outlet. For local environmental events, typically include:
- Life editor/journalist
- City editor/journalist
- Environment editor/journalist
- News editor
- Assignment editor
- Radio & TV
- News director
- Program director
- Assignment direction
- Contact names and information can be obtained from the outlet’s website or by calling and asking the information
If you are pitching the event directly to a journalist, it is important to first do some background research. Read their latest articles to determine how to tailor your pitch to their writing style. Twitter can also be used to find journalists that cover the types of stories and topics you are looking for media coverage on.
A pitch is a call to action for the media, typically around 300 words. It informs and entices journalists to attend and cover your event. Try to frame your pitch as a story – e.g. show impact, include those that have been positively affected.
When preparing a pitch:
- Address the journalist by name to personalize it.
- Do not send the same pitch to all media agencies, it needs to be customized.
- Start with a catchy subject headline – short, clear and direct (many people may read it on their phones).
- Introduce yourself in 1 sentence, why your story is a good fit and 1 sentence about your organization.
- Include a brief description of the event/topic and give 1-2 benefits of covering or attending it (this is the news hook).
- Can you link your pitch to something that is newsworthy or timely? E.g. Earth Day, a current event, new groundbreaking scientific research that is widely being covered.
- Be clear what type of media coverage you are looking for – if you are looking for someone to cover an event, or if you are wanting to go into the studio to do a live interview, etc.
- Send the pitch by email at least 1 week prior to your event.
- Attach a press release to the email.
- Include all your contact information – email and phone number.
- Follow up by phone in case they missed your email or would like more materials, like a press kit, typically after 48 hours.
A press release provides journalists with relevant information about the event and programs or organizations involved. Use a journalistic tone with as much newsworthy information as possible. This allows the journalist to incorporate the information directly into the framework of their news story. Always accompany a press release with a pitch to pique journalists’ interest in your event. Make the pitch the body of the email and include the release as an attachment.
A press kit provides the media with the research, facts, perspectives and historical context of the organization, program or event.
- The most important materials are:
- Fact sheet
- Press release
- Media alert
- Feature article
- Should be available to be sent to any media outlet upon request (usually after a pitch and press release have gone out)
A media alert is an invitation sent to the media outlets you would like to attend an event. Use it as a follow-up reminder to the pitch previously sent. Send it out at least 3 days in advance of an event so that media have enough time to plan their attendance. Ensure the alert outlines the most important details of the event (#2-7 in point form typically)
You should include the following:
- Short paragraph describing the event and the hosting organization
- What (brief description of the event)
- Why (purpose of the event)
- When (date and time)
- Where (location)
- Photo opportunities for the media
Public Service Announcement (PSA)
A public service announcement is a public message that is broadcast to inform and increase awareness about issues, events and programs. They are free to broadcast (but may not be free to produce).
- The goal is to get the target audience to take action – ideal tool for event promotion
- Most publications and broadcast stations allot space and time for PSAs
- Should contain information that benefit the target audience (who, what, why, when, where), but brief for interested parties to follow up with their own research
- 2 key elements: (1) Hook to get audience attention (2) Call to action
- Be simply stated
- Use a conversational tone
- Contain the most important information in the first paragraph
- Use short sentences (12-15 words each)
- Close with a call to action (e.g. register at website)
- Be produced in 15, 30 and 60 second lengths (15 seconds is ~38 words and 30 seconds is ~75 words)