Media: Preparing a winning strategy - Creating your media
Do you ever read a newspaper, watch TV news or listen to the radio and
wonder why they cover stories about what other smaller groups are doing
or activities or issues that seem much less interesting than those you
are staging or advocating for?
Do you and other members of your group wonder:
The answer is probably that the other group has worked hard to
establish, nurture and build their contacts in the media.
- Why isn't our group getting that type of media coverage?
- How come they get on the news, our group is much bigger and we
- Our story is better than that, why didn't we get a run in the
If your group is asking these questions, maybe it's a hint that you
need to have a rethink on media strategy. Firstly, do you have one? If
so, why it isn't working?
Good media coverage is vitally important for your community group to
attract and retain donors, members, helpers, volunteers, fundraisers
and supporters, as well as communicate what you are doing and how you
are going about it. Gaining media coverage helps to market your group
and keep it in the public eye without spending money advertising your
achievements or events.
A key step toward getting good media coverage for your group is to
build regular contact with the media. To ensure your efforts with the
media are not 'hit-and-miss', an effective, long term strategy is to
develop a media contact book.
Why your group should create an effective media contact list
Putting together an effective media contact list can benefit your
community group in several ways, including:
These factors will help your group not only survive, but thrive, in
what is always a tough market for fundraising or attracting donations,
members or volunteers.
- Knowledge and recognition:
- Increased publicity increases your group's visibility and
recognition of your name, logo and brand. It associates your group with
success and good news. It increases your credibility in the public's
- Support and influence:
- The more people who know about your group and find it credible,
the greater likelihood that people will be inspired to support, donate,
join, volunteer and also advocate on its behalf.
- It's value for money:
- Media publicity provides heightened awareness of your group
without the expense of advertising, or if you do advertise, it is more
effective with the editorial endorsement.
Strong organisations invariably have strong media support and that
often starts by compiling an organised and constantly updated media
The importance of appointing a media officer
The first step towards developing a media list is to assign the role of
media or publicity officer to someone within your group.
Your media officer should be someone who likes the media and has a
genuine interest in newspapers/television/radio. They should also be
comfortable dealing with the media and have the required enthusiasm to
effectively sell your group and its message though the media to the
Creating your group's media contact list
Building the List
Putting together a media contact list is something that is done over
time and is added to and updated every time you deal with a new media
Some time-saving tips for focussing on your target markets include:
- Look for the right media outlets
for your news.
- Consider what sort of media coverage you want – local, state or
national, or a combination of the three?
- What medium you wish to use - radio, newspapers, TV?
- Or magazines? Or niche publications? Or a website?
- Establish different sections for
your contact list.
- Headings such as daily newspapers/weekly or Sunday
newspapers/magazines/newsletters/radio news/radio programs/TV/web sites
etc. will make it easier to navigate your contact database.
- Look beyond the obvious.
- Think further than the media outlets you watch, listen to or
read. Check the phone book, websites and specialist publications such
as the Margaret Gee Media Guide. If you are planning on making media a
major part of your group, then the Gee's Guide is probably a very good
investment as it contains details of thousands of general and
specialist publications and media outlets
Who Do You Include?
Everyone in the media you have contact with or think might be
interested in a story on your group. That may include: local
newspaper editors, reporters or photographers; contacts in the news
department at local or metropolitan radio stations; presenters and
producers from talkback programs or magazine style radio shows; or
journalists from local TV stations.
Also include magazines that cover your area; special interest
newsletters that publish stories about your sector; and any websites
that carry news/content related to the work you do or are prepared to
carry links to news on your website.
Your group could expand the contact list to cover reporters from
current affairs programs; feature or editorial writers; other news
department heads; and people with a regular spot on radio who have the
opportunity to plug other people.
Information about each of your contacts should be recorded and kept in
an ordered and easily accessible way. For example:
NAME: Biff Reynolds
ORGANISATION: Daily Tabloid Newspaper
POSITION/TITLE: sports reporter, political reporter,
community affairs reporter.
PHONE: (01) 0549 6632
MOBILE: 0411 1111111
FAX: (01) 0549 6649
DEADLINES: 5pm daily. Prefers copy by 4pm if possible.
OTHER INFORMATION: Interested in stories on sports politics
and local area sports competitions. Prefers releases via email.
CONTACT HISTORY: Under this heading you would include any
occasions in the past you have contacted him, what it was about and
whether your contact generated a story.
If so, include what page and date
that story appeared.
12/11/04. Rang re: appearance of Miss World at fete.
Ran front page (13/11/04).
10/09/04. Met to brief on evaluation results of
heart health project. Ran page 17 with picture of CEO.
Keeping your list up to date
At media organisations there is often a high staff turnover and regular
changes in journalists' roles. Because of this, the contact you
had at a media outlet six months ago may have moved on to another
assignment or even to a new job at another media organisation. So
keeping your media contact directory up-to-date is vital, otherwise it
will quickly become of no use at all.
- Try to update your list every four to six months checking that
the names and contact details are still the same.
- As you deal with different journalists, add them to your
directory and update your files after each contact.
- If a contact says "Call back next month" - mark it in your
directory and follow through.
- If a reporter covering your area has moved to another role, don't
delete them from your directory, they may still be a good contact in
the future and well worth staying in touch with.
Now that you have developed your media
contact list, it is time to use it. For more information on doing so,
refer to the help sheet Using
your Media Contact Book available
at the Media & Marketing Centre of the Our Community website.
- If you have a good relationship with a particular reporter,
maintain it. They can often be a good person to bounce ideas around
with even if they're no longer working in your particular area. You
never know the journalist you knew as a community affairs reporter may
one day be the editor or chief-of-staff!
The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.