Media Guide

This guide walks you through the steps of how to get media coverage for your event and issue. It's critical that you contact the media about your event so that you can increase the chances that your event gets covered.

If you'd like a refresher on how to get great media coverage, click here (this training was put together by our friends at the Center for Progressive Leadership, for a media training with MoveOn members in January 2008).


1 Before the event

Build your media list.

First, you need to create a list of the names, phone numbers and fax/email of media outlets and reporters in your area. The following website is a great place to start. But contact information for the press changes very often, so you might need the good old-fashioned phone book.

For local AP contact information: www.ap.org/pages/contact/contact.html

Another source is http://mondotimes.com/

Blog contact list: this blog list (http://pol.moveon.org/stateblogs.html) will help you find influential political blogs in your state.

Keep track of the information you collect. You can use it again for future events.
Here's a chart to help you figure out whom to target. It's listed in order of priority, so start at the top.

NOTE: For large cities, the AP will often have a separate photo desk, which is worth asking for if the event is particularly visual-friendly. Similarly, large cities will often have Reuters bureaus which are also often worth calling (in case the AP doesn’t show, or if the event is business or economy related).

Outlet

Info You Need

Why You Want to Include Them

The Associated Press (AP)

General phone number & e-mail for the local office in your state. You should also ask who covers local politics and talk to them specifically.

They are a syndicate, meaning other outlets often pick up their stories. They also keep a "daybook" or list of events in the area that other media outlets use to decide what to cover. You definitely want them to post your event in their daybook!

Local progressive talk shows on the radio or community television

Phone number & e-mail for the producer of the show (or the station contact number, if producer's information isn't available).

Progressive local talk-shows are always looking for great local angles – and that means you! At a minimum, you can arrange to call in to the show at an appointed time BEFORE your event, which is great publicity.

Your local TV station that covers local news daily.

Phone, e-mail, & fax of the newsroom or assignment editor.

Because they are local, they are going to be interested in what is going on in the area. Most people get their news from TV.

Your local newspaper(s)

The general phone number & e-mail for the newsroom & the news editor at the metro/city desk, because he/she will decide whether to cover your event. You should also be sure to contact the reporter who covers local politics.

Because they are local, they are going to be interested in what is going on in the area.

Local bloggers

An email address for a writer or editor of any local political blogs.

You have a great chance of getting covered on a local political blog – it's a great way to spread the word to other activists. For a list of major blogs in your state, click here (http://pol.moveon.org/stateblogs.html)

Your local radio station if it does its own local news– likely an all-news station & probably a public radio station

Phone, e-mail, & fax number of the newsroom or news director.

Same as above. If they can’t make it to your event, offer them an interview about your event by phone.

 

Send out your media advisory.

A media advisory is a brief statement that tells reporters everything they need to know about your event. Advisories for our current actions are linked from the event host guide.

You’ll need to go through the advisory we provide, and customize it to describe your event. Watch for any sections in caps or brackets – like [LOCATION] – and replace them with local information.

Once you've customized your advisory, you need to fax or email it to the reporters on your list. You should send out your advisories at least two days before your event. Most reporters now use email, so try to use email as much as possible.

NOTE: You should make a special effort to identify and reach out to local progressive media outlets. Progressive radio talk shows might be interested in having you come on the show in advance to spread the word. That's a fantastic opportunity to get the word out about your event. When you make follow-up calls to these outlets after sending your advisory, make sure to ask which show might be most interested in this story – you'll want to talk to the producer of that show.

Call the reporters.

Calling reporters is the most important part of contacting the media. This is your chance to tell them how great your event is and why they should cover it.

Before you start the calls:

  • Spend a few minutes thinking about what you’ll say to the reporter.
  • Review the talking points and media advisory.
  • You can tailor the reporter call script at the template (at the top of the event guide) to help you feel more comfortable when you call.
  • Practice what you're going to say with a friend or say it out loud a few times (don't worry – even the professionals do this).

Here are some other important tips for when you're calling:

  • Remember, you’re trying to take the most interesting and timely aspects of the story and condense them into 30 seconds or less.
  • If you're calling a progressive media outlet that has a radio show, don't be shy about asking if you can come on the show to talk about your event.
  • Try to talk to reporters directly. Leaving a message on their voicemail or with a receptionist isn't nearly as effective.
  • If you don't have success getting through to a political reporter, think of whether there's another kind of reporter that might be interested in the story -- like an entertainment editor or someone who covers "human interest" stories.

You should call reporters (and email bloggers!) twice. First, call them immediately after you send your advisory -- this should be at least a day or two before your event. Second, call them again on the morning of your event.

The most important call is the one to your local Associated Press (AP) office. Ask them to put your event on their “daybook”—the list of events in the area that other media outlets use when deciding what to cover.

Here are the ideal times for calling the media:

  • Call TV stations before 9 am, which is when they have their morning assignment meeting.
  • Call radio anytime.
  • Call papers between 9 am and 10 am, when editors & reporters choose stories for the day.

Note: If you can't call during these times, just call when you can. But be sure to ask if the reporter is "on deadline" before you start, in case they're rushing to finish something. They may ask you to call back in a bit.

1 At the event

Look for reporters!

Have two people, armed with press releases or media kits, walk around the crowd and approach reporters.

You can usually find reporters at the very front of the crowd, or else at the edges. Television and photo journalists are easier to identify because they carry expensive camera equipment; print journalists, and some bloggers, will be taking notes in long, skinny notebooks, but you often need to look carefully.

If you spot someone who looks like press, walk up and ask them if they’re with the media. If they say yes, introduce yourself as you would on the phone, offer them a press release or media kit, and ask if they have any questions or want to speak with a spokesperson for the group.

Make sure you write down their name and outlet and ask them for a business card if they have one; let them know you’ll be in touch with any developments and can let them know about future events.

After the event, make sure to add them to your group’s media list.

Welcome the press.

The more you can explain the event to the press, the more likely it is you will get a good story. You should assign 1 or 2 people (or the media team if you have one) to keep an eye out for any reporters. If they see a reporter they should welcome them to the event and give them a copy of the press advisory. (Make sure you bring the edited version of the advisory rather than our template – check to make sure "[LOCATION]" has been replaced with your own city's name, etc.)

Stick to your talking points.

If we don't plan ahead for what we are going to say to reporters, it is more likely they will take part of what we say out of context and misquote us. The best way to make sure the media covers the real story of the event is to practice the talking points ahead of time and try to stick to them at the event.

It's best if you have a media team of one or two people who are in charge of talking to any reporters who might come to the event.

In order to download the talking points for your upcoming event, check the box at the top of the event guide.


1 After the event

Be sure to share any news clippings with others at MoveOn -- we'll send you a survey after the event with a link and email address. And if you're part of a MoveOn Council, share the news clippings with your Regional Coordinator and Field Organizer.