An introduction to……
Using Local Media
Local media reporters focus on stories they know will be of interest to the majority of local citizens. Consequently, issues of international development rarely make local news. This is where you come in! You, as local people, can provide the crucial link. By giving reporters stories about local people taking action on an international development issue such as Climate Injustice, this becomes local news and local concern for such issues is registered. Local media‖s increasing attention to environmental issues provides opportunities to highlight the links between lifestyles in the UK and the impacts of climate change on the world‖s poorest people. This briefing is an introduction to the most common and effective approaches to using local media for campaigning. There are plenty more resources out there and the Practical Action campaigns team are on-hand to give more advice and support.
Why use the media as a campaign tool?
To reach a wider audience To reach new audiences To motivate / recruit supporters To raise the profile of Practical Action‖s campaign To influence public opinion To influence decision-makers e.g. local MPs It‖s free!
Why local media?
Your story is more likely to get accepted in local media and you will still reach a wide audience. For example the Wolverhampton Express and Star has almost as many readers as The Independent. It is easier to build relationships with key journalists in your area, which is the most effective long-term strategy for getting coverage of your campaigning activities. You will be able to speak to them directly helping you understand the kind of stories they are interested in and if you are reliable they will come to depend on you, and will be more likely to answer your calls! Coverage in local media can influence local public opinion, which is a powerful way to influence your MP and national opinion.
Practical Action The Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby CV23 9QZ, UK T +44 (0) 1926 634400 | F + 44 (0) 1926 634401 | E firstname.lastname@example.org | W www.practicalaction.org Practical Action is the working name of Intermediate Technology Development Group | Registered Charity No 247257
An introduction to……
What makes news? Top tips for getting coverage
• • • • Something unusual, new, controversial, thought-provoking, amusing, intriguing, shocking A local angle (e.g. ―Practical Action Bristol Group……‖) or a link to the local (e.g. when the Titanic sank, Newcastle Journal headline was ― NE man drowned in Atlantic‖) Performing a publicity stunt / innovative public awareness-raising event, handing over a petition, holding a demonstration, holding a press conference, celebrities and politicians. Sending a letter to the Letters Editors of your local paper. You can either initiate a topic or react to a letter or article that has already appeared in the newspaper. Follow this up with a phone call to ensure they have received your letter. Submitting on news quiet days (Mondays, non-parliamentary days, after Bank Holidays…) although this is less important for local media.
Researching local media
Local Libraries should hold information on local media. Look out for the most recent edition of the Guardian Media Directory. Look in the yellow pages under Newspapers, Radio and Television. For specific contact and deadline information call the newspapers or radio/TV stations directly.
What to research
• • • • • • Local papers, TV, radio, freebies, magazines Find out exactly which geographical areas they cover Look for different types of pages, columns, programmes e.g. environment, women‖s pages. Find out deadlines (e.g. local papers may be weekly, many magazines have three-month lead times, TV stations can be contacted at short notice…). Find out which papers are read by the people you are trying to influence (e.g. your MP) Use this research to build a profile of all local media that you can use time and time again. The profile should include at least: – – – – – Name of publication or programme Any relevant sections / columns Name and contact details of news editor (including phone, fax, e-mail) The deadline for news stories Names and contact details of reporters or producers who might be interested in your issue
Using local media 2
An introduction to……
Writing a press release
A good way to get coverage of your story and/or event is to produce a press release which you can send to all your media contacts. If they are interested in your story they may edit your press release to form an article or may contact you for more information. Either way a press release should be short, punchy and factually correct to grab their attention. The timing of your submission is key and be sure to follow it up with a phone-call to check it has been received and to include all your contact details. DO • • Use headed notepaper; give it a date and a snappy headline Type it but keep it short, simple and preferably on a single sheet. Use no more than 3 sentences per paragraph Number the pages; end the first with “more follows”; start the second with a new paragraph; on the final page finish off with “ends” Try to get all the crucial information in the opening paragraph—including who, what, when, where, why, how Include a sensible, pithy quote from an identified spokesperson Provide contact name(s) and phone number(s)—make sure all your key people have a copy, and that at least one person is available outside office hours (with a copy of the release and any useful background information) If the story is photogenic, give details of what, when and where photographs can be taken Add brief extra background information in a “Note for Editors” Check deadlines in advance: make sure your release arrives in time for journalists to follow it up DON‖T • • • • • Never assume the reader will know all about your concerns Rambling prose and irrelevant details detract from the impact If you use both sides of a sheet of paper, the second side may be ignored Avoid repetition, clichés, jargon and abbreviations Never make claims you cannot prove, and avoid exaggeration: overstating your case is more likely to wreck than to win your argument Sloppy presentation, mistakes and bad grammar damage credibility. Get someone else to check for sense, accuracy and spelling Wit may win a smile, but irony seldom works—especially on strangers Never assume your release has been received until you‖ve spoken to someone in the newsroom who has seen it. • Follow up with a phone call: if it hasn‖t been received, e-mail, fax or deliver another copy at once.
Using local media 3
An introduction to……
A picture speaks a thousand words! - organising a photo call
A photo call encourages reporters to photograph your event, stunt or demonstration. Images arouse interest and may well lead to further media coverage in the form of articles or interviews. Favourite ingredients for a successful photo call include fancy dress, celebrities (local or national), children and humour
Setting up the photo call
• Choose an outside location if possible, that‖s easy to get to, with space for a group of photographers to gather without causing problems (a narrow pavement is not ideal as pedestrians won‖t take kindly to being forced onto the road) Arrange for the Practical Action logo to be displayed so that it‖s obvious from the picture that it‖s a Practical Action story (e.g. a banner or t-shirt) Write a press release to send to picture editors and TV stations. 11am is usually a good time, meeting the needs of both morning and evening papers. • Give full details of the location, with a map and parking places • Phone picture desks a day or two beforehand, to make sure the event is in everyone‖s diaries Make sure you have a spokesperson available at the event. Take your own photos in case the newspaper doesn‖t send a photographer. Note which journalists and photographers turn up. Have written details of the event ready to give to journalists, with names and titles of anyone appearing in the photograph. Have a contingency plan in case of last minute problems
After the event
If you took your own photographs at the event, get the pictures developed quickly (6" x 8" colour is the usual format) or saved as a .jpeg so you can e-mail it. Send them (the same day) to any papers that didn‖t turn up at the event and to local news and picture agencies.
Following letters, press releases or photo calls local media (most commonly local radio stations) may want to interview you – yet another fantastic chance to get the issue out to a wider audience. If so, call Practical Action campaigns team for information and advice on giving effective interviews.
BBC Action Network offers a guide to using the media as part of their A-Z of campaigning. Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A4288908. BBC Action Network offers an online space to advertise your campaign or your campaign activity. Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/ Practical Action campaigns team are also on-hand to provide advice and support: Email: email@example.com Tel: 01926 634400
Using local media 4
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