Media - Making Contact - When Should you Invite the MediaKnowing when to invite the media is an important part of working with them to communicate any news, stories or information you want to get out to the public.
But in doing so, there is a fine balance to be had. Your group can't (or shouldn't) invite the media to all its events, nor can it not invite the media at all.
Your group or organisation needs to find that balance. And its well worth it - getting it right can see you become a favourite of the media, and more likely to receive good coverage from them of your stories, opinions, activities and fundraisers.
When Should you Invite the Media?For community groups and not-for-profits hoping to get some media coverage, there are a variety of times when your group could think about inviting the media:
A launch or opening of something newBe it a new facility, new initiative or new service, the launch or opening of something that will make a difference among a wide cross section of the community.
Just remember though - not every new service is "big" enough or notable enough to need a full-on media launch.
It's natural that your organisation - like any other - is going to be a bit biased and think everything it does is worth organising a big media event for.
But your group has to have the ability to step back and look at what you are doing with an unbiased eye and a somewhat clinical detachment.
Ask yourselves - "Is it worth organising a media event and inviting the media, or could we get the message out just as effectively in another way?"
If on balance your group believes there is another, more effective, way of getting the message out, then use it instead.
An event/festival/fundraiser/speech, etcIt is always well worth considering inviting the media to events - even if they are likely to come along of their own accord!
One example of an event where the media would come along of their own accord would be a suburban or regional festival.
The media would cover the festival in the normal course of their reporting because it is newsworthy, but your group could take this a step further and issue a specific invitation for the media to attend the festival's main event, fundraising dinner, gala ball, etc.
This way not only are you getting the media to come along of their own accord, but you can also "guide" them to a showcase event of your choosing - maybe one where you will convey key messages, or raise money for a specific reason or cause.
The same type of opportunity exists in inviting the media to major speeches or fundraising events. It can guide them towards not only covering the speech or event, but to also conveying your message further than just the audience at the venue.
A VIP visitA VIP visit is always worth inviting the media to. Not only is the visit of the VIP in question newsworthy in itself, but it can be a great vehicle to piggyback your group's messages on.
However, it is important for your group to remember to explain or justify why "your VIP" is actually a VIP.
Often this is self-explanatory - as the person in question is already well-known. But if it isn't it is your group's job to "sell" the credentials of your VIP to the media by way of an explanation.
A major interview opportunityIf your group is offering interviews or having its say - for example, in response to another statement or event, or proposed new rules or legislation - inviting the media to attend an interview or media conference may be an option.
It is important that what you have to say - or the interview you are involved in - is important enough for the media to actually be invited and attend; rather than be catered for through a simple press release or quick phone call.
Another option is organising a feature interview with someone from your group - or someone they might help or work with - and inviting the media for an interview and picture opportunities towards a feature.
A major meetingInviting the media to a major meeting of your group might be appropriate if a major decision, policy move or announcement is to be made.
But remember, given the candid and sometimes heated debate that can occur in community group or not-for-profit committee meetings, opening them to the media through an invitation may not be something all your group's members would be comfortable with.
It may be a better idea to keep your meeting "in camera" so you can debate any issues away from the media's glare, and then invite the media to an event, announcement or launch in the following days.
More information on inviting the media - including some tips to remember - can be found in the help sheet What to Keep in Mind When Inviting the Media, also available at the Media, Marketing and Post Centre
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