Your Partnership and the Media - Media Contacts

A key part of promoting your partnership and its activities through the media is finding and maintaining a good media contacts list.

Having a record of which media outlets to call, which journalists to speak to or the deadlines and fax numbers of newspapers a vital tools in helping your partnership gain as much publicity as it can.

Finding media contacts

The first step towards getting your partnership into the media is to find some contacts in the industry.

The role or responsibility of a media officer should be assigned to someone early in the partnership, with guidelines also set up on who is able to speak to the media and who clears any potential media releases or statements.
Some steps towards building a body of media contacts include:
  • Looking for the right media outlets.
    • Be they newspapers, radio or TV, it is important your partnership finds the media outlet that is going to give it the best and most relevant coverage.
    • Examine:
      • Whether a local or community-based newspaper or radio station is right for you – particularly if your partnership is having an impact in the local area or involves the local community.
      • What sort of media coverage you want – more detailed coverage, including pictures, are more likely to be available from local media. Also, what medium do you want to target – radio, newspapers, TV or all three?

  • Contact your chosen media outlets and ask who the best person to send things to would be.
    • Get a name of a person who works there, not just the vague title of "our community affairs reporter".
    • If that person is only filling in on that round, ask for the name of the person who usually covers that round.
    • You should remember that when contacting local media, especially newspapers, there are often only one or two journalists who work there, with rounds or areas divided up between them. If that is the case, ask for the most applicable person.

  • Talk to the journalist you have been put in touch with, and:
    • Quickly but clearly introduce yourself and your partnership.
    • Explain why you are ringing, and ask if you can send press releases to them.
    • Ask how the best way to do that would be, be it on the phone, by fax or email.
    • After that, make sure you get their correct details.
    • Also ask about the media outlet itself, its coverage, deadlines, etc. Note them and make a point of adhering to those deadlines.

  • Thank them for their time before ending your phone call.

Developing a contact sheet

After doing a bit of homework and ringing each of the media outlets you have chosen to, you can note the details down as part of a contact sheet.

That contact sheet can grow each time you get in touch with your media contacts for a story.

There are a number of ways this can be done, but one way is to list their contact details under the following headings:

Media Organisation:
Journalist/s Name:
Rounds Covered:
Telephone Number:
Mobile Number:
Fax Number:
E-Mail And Website Address:
Location Covered By Media Outlet:
Other Information:
Contact History:

Working with media contacts

An important thing to remember is to address the release you send to not only the media outlet, but also to the individual journalist. That makes sure it gets noticed and increases the chances of it ending up in the right person's hands.

Other things you can do to further your good relationship with media contacts include:
  • Contact them regularly when there is a story you wish to publicise.

  • Remember your loyal or helpful contacts.
    • When appropriate, think about giving those contacts that have been most helpful in the past a small amount of preferential treatment – for example:
    • Early warnings of upcoming story possibilities, or.
    • Giving them first preference on a story so they can get a head-start on their rivals.

  • Thank them.
    • Remember to say thanks, and remember to send them things like Christmas cards as well, reinforcing that appreciation.

  • Encourage them to ring you for comments on related matters if applicable, or during a slow news week.
    • If your media contact has a story that is related to areas in which your partnership works – for example, social issues, the environment or the arts – invite them to ring you for comment if they wish.
    • Under these circumstances, make sure other partnership partners do not have a problem with you commenting on these matters.
    • One thing to be mindful of if you are going to do this is to ensure you and your partnership do not fall victim to over-exposure. For more information on over-exposure and its problems, refer to the How to Publicise your Partnership Help Sheet at the partnerships Brokerage Service section of the Our Community website.