Getting Media Coverage: A Step-By-Step Guide

16 December 2015, 3:18 PM
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With United Religions Initiative being featured on national television, this could open up doors for local media to cover the work of your URI Cooperation Circle or Affiliate in your community. Below is a sample guide for obtaining coverage.

Steps

  1. Identify Your Target Media Outlets
  1. Television Stations:
    1. Since this program will be airing on 98% of CBS stations in the United States, I would recommend starting by contacting the local CBS News affiliate in your community. You can find a list of CBS affiliates at this link:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-tv-stations-affiliates/. Because of the competition that exists between different news networks, contacting other local news networks (i.e, Fox, abc, etc.) might be futile.

*Note*: If you only have time to contact one news organization, I would recommend contacting your local CBS station as they have a stake in promoting what is happening on their network.

  1. Local newspapers
  2. Local bloggers
  3. Identify who you want to speak to, usually either a:
    1. Reporter or section editor who usually covers these kinds of topics. I would recommend reaching out to the following types of reporters/editors:
      1. Community Events
      2. Religion/Faith and Values
      3. Multicultural Issues
      4. Features
    2. Assignment Editor (a person who “who selects, develops and plans reporting assignments, either news events or feature stories, to be covered by reporters”)
  4. Find their contact information:
    1. Many media outlets list their staff’s phone numbers or email addresses on their website. If you cannot find the contact information for the person you want to speak to directly, you can always call the general number and talk to whoever picks up: talking to someone is better than talking to no one!
    2. Search Twitter and Facebook to see if the person you are trying to contact has a public presence. If so, contacting them this way can be a wonderful secondary way to reach out if you a) cannot find their phone number, b) don’t get a response to your email or voicemail.
    3. If you are having trouble finding contact information, I may be able to help. Contact me at sari@uri.org.
  5. Make the call!
    1. Talking to someone over the phone (or in person!) is generally best, so give it a try before you try email. See below for sample scripts.
    2. If you can’t find a number to call  or if you have to leave a voicemail, send an email as well. See below for sample scripts.
    3. If the person you are trying to contact has a public social  media presence, go ahead and contact them this way too. It is acceptable to leave a voicemail, send an email and a social media message all on the same day! See below for sample Tweets.
  6. Follow up
    1. If you do not hear back from the news station  or they did not give you a definite “yes” or “no” answer, follow up periodically.
  1. Contact Your Target Media Outlets
  1. Be prepared to follow through

When the media outlet/s are ready to do the story, they will likely want one or more of the following:

  1. Someone to interview -- Rather than scrambling to find a person for them to interview after they commit to doing the story, do the work beforehand: identify and get consent from someone you think will present your organization well (this could be you!). Remember, if you are trying to get coverage from a TV station, this person will. have to be willing to talk on camera.
  2. Photographs or videos clips from previous events or projects
  3. A time and place they can take photos or videos of your group -- Again, I would have a time/date in mind before you even know that they are interested in doing a story.

Sample Telephone Script:

Hi, my name is __________ and I am calling from [Name of Organization]. I’d like to talk to someone about a story I’m hoping you will consider covering. Our organization will be included in an upcoming program that will be aired Christmas Eve on CBS Television stations across the United States. 

But, right here in [Name of Your City] there is a group of people who are part of a global organization called United Religions Initiative. We are a movement of hundreds of thousands of people proving that things can be different --  that we can help, and not hurt, one another.

The work of United Religions Initiative around the world will be featured in an hour-long program on CBS but right here locally we are doing similar work. For example [tell one short, concrete, powerful and recent example of this happening].

I know around the holidays you are often looking for “evergreen stories” that you can have reporters gather before the holidays themselves. I was thinking this might be a great opportunity for your audience [“readers” if it’s a newspaper] to learn about what we are doing locally to counter a national crisis. I have member of our organization who are ready and willing to talk with you and as well as photographs and videos I can share with you for airing [“publication” if it is a newspaper/online outlet].

If they ask you questions about how this ties into the CBS Christmas Eve Special:   

United Religions Initiative is a network of people from all over the world who are committed to creating peace and ending religiously-motivated violence. We are members of United Religions Initiative and do work locally that is tied to people in 92 countries around the world.

Sample Email/Facebook Message:

Subject Heading: Story Pitch: Local group part of peace movement to be highlighted on CBS

Hi,

My name is __________ and I work with [Name of Organization]. I’d like to talk to someone about a story I’m hoping you will consider covering. Our organization will be included in an upcoming program that will be aired Christmas Eve on CBS Television stations across the United States.

These past weeks have been really difficult ones and it can sometimes seem like wherever we turn we see people of different faith hating and hurting each other. But, right here in [Name of Your City] there is a group of people who are part of a global organization called United Religions Initiative. We are a movement of hundreds of thousands of people proving that things can be different --  that we can help, and not hurt, one another.

The work of United Religions Initiative around the world will be featured in an hour-long program on CBS (you can read about the special here: www.uri.org/cbs) but right here locally we are doing similar work. For example [tell one short, concrete, powerful and recent example of this happening].

I know around the holidays you are often looking for “evergreen stories” that you can have reporters gather before the holidays themselves. I was thinking this might be a great opportunity for your audience [“readers” if it’s a newspaper] to learn about what we are doing locally to counter a national crisis. I have member of our organization who are ready and willing to talk with you and as well as photographs and videos I can share with you for airing [“publication” if it is a newspaper/online outlet]

I look forward to hearing from you!

[Your Name]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Cellphone Number]

Sample Tweets: 

Hey @Twitternameofreporter, did you know a [name of you city] organization is part of a movement that will be featured on @CBS on Christmas Eve? 

Hey @Twitternameofreporter, did you know that a [name of city] organization is countering the rising hate we see nationally? We'd love to get some coverage