Media - Making Contact - What to Keep in Mind When Inviting the Media

The help sheet When Should you Invite the Media looked at some of the occasions when your community group or organisation could consider inviting the media.

When doing so, there are some tips your group should keep in mind to improve the chances of your "media event" being a success - and therefore receiving good coverage.

Be Realistic

Your group or organisation should be realistic, bordering on blunt, with its appraisal of the worth of your event and whether it warrants invitations to the media.

The media are often pressed for time as it is, and there are few things that will more quickly put your group in their bad books than inviting them to a "non-event" and completely wasting their time.

Not only that, but your group needs to remember that the media doesn't have to physically be at an event to cover it. Solid enough news stories can be written from information gained in a quick phone interview or through a solid press release.

Journalists at busy suburban papers in particular often have to save time by doing a portion of their work on the phone rather than by attending events.

Your group should look at the story or pictures you are trying to get the media to cover, and think about whether they would attend if a media event was organised.

If, after looking at it objectively, your group still thinks its news or pictures are worth inviting the media to, then do so. If not, consider a different way of getting the news out to the public.

Be Picky

An "event" isn't really an event if it happens every week; at the very least it becomes a much less significant event.

So for your group's events to warrant attention (and media attendance) they shouldn't be happening every second day.

Concentrate on inviting the media to your group's significant news events or announcements rather than your more run-of-the-mill happenings.

If you do want the media to attend something a bit more run-of-the-mill, your group may need to "dress it up" to make it more attractive, or find a quirky or unique news angle for the media to pick up.

But your group isn't going to get coverage every week and for everything it does. Pick and choose what you invite the media to, and how often you invite them.

Emphasise Visuals

Highlighting the pictorial or visual opportunities in your story can be done in the media releases you send out.

It's amazing how a good "pic-op" can attract the media and turn a decent story into one which gets a great run with an attractive picture or footage.

Having good visuals on offer (or organising some) can help make the media interested and more willing to accept invitations to your events.

If the media know that your group's events have "the whole package" of a newsy story and some good quality visual images, they will be more likely to accept invitations to your events.

Allow Plenty of Warning

It is important if you want the media to come to your event to give them plenty of warning that it's on.

It's not too hard to do either - send out a media release or give the journalists in question a quick phone call a few days or a week beforehand.

That way they can pencil the event in their diaries and try to organise a photographer/camera crew if there are picture opportunities available.

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