Getting Out the News
Section 1: What a media relations plan will and will not do
Section 2: Developing a media relations strategy
Section 3: What do the media do?
Section 4: Understanding the news media
Section 5: What to know about news gathering
Section 6: Free publicity
A final word
Getting Out the News: Suggested Activities

To many, the news media are the people we love to hate. Several studies measuring the publicís perception of trustworthiness in the job force have found we do not like or trust journalists. So if that is the case, why do you want to learn to effectively relate to an industry that people do not hold in high regard?

The reason is that the news media Ė radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and other outlets Ė are one of your best ways of getting news and information about your environmental education program to the public, to consumers. You might not like the media, but you need them. And they also need you; good stories they receive from you help them stay in business.


Section 1: What a media relations plan will and will not do
Developing an effective news media relations plan can accomplish the following: However, media relations can't:
Section 2: Developing a media relations strategy
You must develop a strategy in order to build an effective relationship with the media. The relationship doesnít happen just by itself. You have to be proactive: go to the media, instead of having the media come to you first. Here are suggestions as you map out your plan:
Section 3: What do the media do?
At this point, maybe it would be good to describe what the news media do. The media pass information to target audiences. They act as filters. They decide whatís important and what is actually reported. You also must keep in mind that media are in business for profit. They stay in business by selling newspapers and advertisement space, and these sales are generated by filling newspapers and newscasts with information their audiences want. And where do they get this "good content"? Some of it comes from people like you who have developed an effective media relations strategy.
Section 4: Understanding the newsmedia

One of the components to an effective media relations strategy is to become a reputable, expert source. This also means that you should contribute news items to the media to let them know whatís going on in your program. However, what you may consider to be news may not be what news directors consider news. Following are the criteria many news directors use to determine newsworthiness: With these criteria in mind, you may wonder what story ideas you might have that would be of interest to a news outlet. If you want a reporter to cover a meeting you are conducting, you first should ask, "Why would a reporter cover this meeting?" If it is a regular meeting and nothing new or exciting is happening, the chances are slim that the reporter would be interested in covering the meeting. If, however, you have invited a special speaker or are doing something out of the ordinary, it is very likely a reporter would come. But notice that the slant of the story would be to cover the "newness" of the event in the meeting, not the meeting itself. News Ė not olds Ė gets attention.

Different media approach stories a little differently. Newspaper reporters want lots of quotations, hard-core facts (numbers), and photo opportunities. You should schedule stories with newspaper reporters no later than early afternoon, because the deadline for newspaper reporters to complete their stories is early evening to be included in the next morningís paper. Radio reporters want short quotations (also called soundbites) of 10 to 20 seconds in length and natural (or background) sound. Interviews with radio reporters can be scheduled at any time, because radio news programs air many times during the day. Television reporters also want short soundbites (10-20 seconds) and moving visuals. TV stories can not be as detailed as newspaper stories; TV stories are shorter, usually 90 seconds or less. Schedule TV interviews for early to mid-morning for the noon or 5 p.m. newscasts or early afternoon for the 5, 6, and 11 p.m. newscasts.


Section 5: What to know about news gathering
As you can see, one way to establish successful media relations is to think like a reporter. Following are some ideas you must keep in mind when working with reporters: Lastly, here are a few suggestions on how you can help reporters do their jobs better. Remember, if you want to develop good media relations, try to accommodate the news media as much as possible.
Section 6: Free publicity
You may be on a tight budget but would like to stretch your "publicity dollars" as much as you can. In addition to providing media outlets with news releases and tip sheets, here are a few ways to get some free publicity:
A final word
This section presented some steps for you to take in order to develop effective relations with media. To summarize, get to know reporters in your community, and know their "beat" assignments. Write tip sheets, news releases, and PSAs on a regular basis. And most importantly, become a dependable and reputable source. If you accomplish this, youíll find that media relations is not difficult at all. You may even get to like this group of people everyone loves to hate.
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