Media Relations: Too Valuable NOT to Use

Patricia-Brooks-photo-imageGuest blogger, Patricia Brooks guides client orgs to reach and motivate people through traditional and new media sources. She’s a 24/7 newshound and loves to match the right story with the right journalist.

Freedom of the press is one of the founding principles of American democracy, and the press is our vehicle for making our voices heard and driving change.

As a U.S. media relations specialist, I am fortunate to base my career on our first amendment right to press. But it breaks my heart that more Americans (and nonprofits) don’t appreciate the their power when it comes to the media.

There are a variety of reasons why individuals and organizations can benefit from working with the press. These include facilitating global change on a social issue, passing legislation on national, state, or local level, drawing attention to a community issue, fundraising or marketing your own initiative. Whatever the reason, getting press is frequently a valuable tactic for achieving a greater goal.

Press conferences, news releases, advertising, op-eds, interviews, and letters to the editor are often the tactics that most people think of to get media attention. These approaches can all be helpful, but to achieve success in the media what you really need is a clear end goal of what you want to accomplish and a willingness to research and consume the media that would help influence your goals.

The Power of Media Relations—A Mini Case Study

One of my client organizations aimed to make the case that a certain U.S. policy should be reformed because it was unjust and driving poverty across the world. In order to convince U.S. politicians, it was important that we get some news coverage in national newspapers about the problem. But the question was how.

For several weeks, we gathered research, data, and sources from the impoverished regions that demonstrated our case that the specific US policy was detrimental to those living in poverty. The next step was to email this to a journalist who writes on related issues as proof of our case and encourage her to write an article about our story. But who?

There are paid databases to find the contact information for journalists; however, there are several free tools available that can provide good results. Twitter or the website of the media outlet often has contact information for journalists. Once I found the reporter who covered these types of issues and her contact information, I sent an email. Bingo—she was interested in writing a piece in the paper.

The article just happened to run on the front page of the New York Times on the same day as a related Congressional meeting, and contributed to the removal of the harmful policy. This is an example of the power of media relations success.

Once You Taste Success in Media Relations, You’ll Just Keep Going

Once you get started with media relations tactics, you will see so many ways in which you can use press to trigger change to move your organization’s cause or issue forward. And even in your personal life…

If you’re doubtful of that, check out former Senior Vice-President of CIGNA, turned whistle-blower, Wendell Potter’s book, Deadly Spin. He describes how insurance companies more frequently offered coverage to those consumers who took their complaints to the press.

The power of the press is undeniable and unavoidable, so if it is not already a part of your organization’s communications tool kit, get working on it now.

How do you use media relations to advance your issues or causes? Or, if you don’t, what’s getting in your way? Please share your stories here.


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Guest Blogger in Media Relations and Press | 5 comments
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