Below are pointers on how to work with the Media.
Keep an image in mind for use by the media. So find sympathetic subjects (a homeless senior, for example). Or station a person dressed in costume to give the media some eye-catching footage, something other than clips of speeches. Catchy slogans are also useful. A banner at a pro-choice rally read “Every Sperm Does Not Need A Name.” It made newspapers and TV News. Placards, posters, and charts are also good gimmicks.
Appeal to Self Interests
Don’t offend the people you seek to change, rather appeal to their self-interest. People will rise up indignantly if they feel their neighbors have been wronged. But they will be even more indignant, if they feel they have been wronged. Stress the practical advantages of your solution rather than using moral arguments, as moral views are difficult to change. For example, it is easier to convert people to a meatless diet by discussing the health benefits of vegetables than by discussing religious scriptures.
Go to the Media
Go to the media and the public, instead of asking them to come to you. Hold rallies in highly visible places rather than symbolic places. Attempt should be to give illusion of mass involvement to get media interested. Leaflet. If you do any survey or study, make it available to the media. Mail them all supplemental information and comments from the affected constituencies.
Maintain Media Interest
Prevent media’s departure prior to achievement of an effective solution to the problem. Try to equate media success with the social change you want, so that when you win, the media feels it is they who’ve won. Give them the credit, and make them see they are to be credited. This way you’ll make a media ally.
Choose A Spokesperson
Devote a lot of effort to preparing someone for media contact. Sometimes, simply having victims tell their story is most effective. Ask them to fully describe how much they have suffered from the problem at issue. When victims do not want to be thrust in the limelight, constituency-based speakers are best. Balance should be struck between community members and staff people. Simple test: examine past coverage. Do you like it? Then stick to the past spokesperson. If you don’t like it, rethink your strategy.
Dealing With Reporters
A reporter’s agenda should be known in full right from the start. When an unfamiliar reporter comes, ask what angle she/he is pursuing. Reporters refusing to divulge their purpose in seeking your comments may harm you more than help you. Examine the reporter’s prior coverage of similar issues. Strengthen your relationship with sympathetic reporters by giving them exclusive. Discuss and strategize about your responses to the media. Establish the message you want conveyed at the outset, and stick to it. Different people have different comments on one issue. Media may pick a different message than one you intended if too many people talk to the media. Also, the longer you talk, the more the chances for the media to edit out stuff and put their own spin on it.
Responding To Media Bias
When confronting with an unfair media story, consider writing a letter to the editor. Avoid a point-by-point rebuttal. Quote facts from other stories published by the same media that conflict with claims of the new unfair story. Your opponents cannot dispute these quotes without jeopardizing the credibility of her/his own workplace. Another tactic: have letter signed by a respected community figure not directly connected with the cause at issue.
Monitor The Media
A good deal of media relations work is spent in attempting to gain favorable coverage for the cause. For this arrange and monitor press interviews, write news release and related press material, organize press conferences and answer media inquiries and requests. Conduct opinion research measuring attitudes of people to a certain issue.
Writing The News Release
Localize information. Make information newsworthy. Delete adjectives, instead describe simply. Make it well written free form grammatical, syntactical, and free of spelling errors.
News Release Checklist
- double spaced on one side only of 8-1/2″ by 11″ inexpensive paper sock, preferably on letterhead.
- put name, address, and telephone number of the release writer in the upper part of release.
- date releases either for immediate release, or to be held until a certain later date.
- margins should be 1-1/2 inch or wider.
- paragraphs should be short; the lead should be one sentence.
- give the release a one-word identifying title and use the same title on every page, in case the pages become separated.
- the bottom of every page should say “-more-” (if there is an additional page) or “-30-” (to denote the end of the release).use gender-neutral nouns or descriptors wherever possible (synthetic for man-made, Member of Congress for Congressman).
- spell unusual names twice, the second time in parenthesis like this; “Palestinian human rights activist Hanan Ashrawi [repeat Hanan Ashrawi] will speak at SUNY…”.
Sample Press Release
33 Central Avenue, Albany NY 12210
October 4, 2011
For Immediate Release
For more information contact David Easter,
Students from the Capital District campuses will hold a rally against racism, Saturday, October 19 at 1 pm.
The rally will begin in Albany’ s Townsend Park, the triangular park at the point where Washington and Central Avenues come together. Participants will then march through nearby neighborhoods, before returning to the park for a concluding rally.
The rally, initiated by the Student Peace Action Network, is in response to recent attacks on immigrants, efforts to gut affirmative action, plans to slash welfare, and attempts to cut ethnic studies programs. The rally will also protest a racially biased criminal justice system.
The Student Peace Action Network brings together college and high school students in the Capital District to share their experiences and support each other in work stop wars and bring justice. SPAN is a program of Upper Hudson Peace Action. Other rally sponsors include the Center for Law and Justice, the Social Justice Center, and SUNY Greens.
“We want to wake people up to grave injustices in our community”, said Corrie Mullingen, chair of the Campus Anti-Racist Coalition. “Racism is not a thing of the past. We encounter it in our lives every day.” Mullingen is active in the Pan Caribbean Association at SUNY Albany.
Althea Jones, a member of Spectrum: Black and Latino Student Union at the College of St. Rose, said. “We chose the theme We the People because, in this diverse society, all of our voices count. We have both a right and an obligation to press our country to live up to its highest ideals. We welcome everyone to attend the rally, regardless of ethnic background.”