I am not a media expert. Before joining the BrandJRNY team, my only experience with local media outlets involved contacting newspapers for details on publishing opinion editorials. In other words, before the BrandJRNY-Point Pleasant Community Banding Kickoff, I had never requested media coverage for an event. Where was I supposed to start? As the public relations and community relations director for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant project, following these six tips placed me on the road to success:
1. Make a Contact List
Before requesting media coverage, you should know who to contact. The best way to do this is to make a list. Research prominent media outlets for the area you are trying to inform, and make a list of names, emails, and phone numbers to accompany your designated media outlets. Consider platforms, including radio, newspaper, and TV news stations. Mark your contacts when you call them to keep track of your communications. I included a “notes” column in my template, which was beneficial when speaking to the media contacts over the phone.
2. Reach Out Personally
No one likes SPAM mail. Reach out to your contacts personally, and cater each message to the recipient. You may want to start with a phone call to the media outlet, and then ask for a valid email address to continue future communications. Each email should be specific to the contact’s medium, and appeal to the audience of each one. For example, radio wants to make the best experience for its listeners, so tell them why covering your event will benefit their audience.
3. Prepare an Advisory and Offer to Share it
What is your event, when is it, and who will be there? Preparing a media advisory before reaching out to your contacts will answer all of these questions. Media advisories announce the details of your upcoming event and invite the media to attend. Writing the advisory in advance saves everyone time, and conveys a consistent and reliable message you can share among various outlets. If you reach out via phone first, send this document as a follow up to ensure that all of the event information was received. If your first contact with the media is via email, include this document to help answer all of their initial questions.
4. Tell Them Why it Matters
How does this information benefit the media and their viewers? Media outlets want to know the relevance of your event and why it’s worth covering. Does it take place in their area? Will someone of importance be in attendance? Give them the details that will appeal to their audience and spark their interest in attending.
5. Follow Up
Congrats! You’ve reached out to all your contacts! Now what? Follow up with them after your event and recap its success. If they were in attendance, thank them for their support and provide details for future events they may be interested in covering.
6. Learn From “No”
So, they said no. That’s okay! It is not the end of the world. This response could mean they were unavailable to attend your event, or it wasn’t the best fit for them. Accept this and maintain a professional relationship with them moving forward. They may be interested in a future event.
These six tips served as a great guideline for me when I contacted media outlets for BrandJRNY’s Community Branding Kickoff Event in Point Pleasant. As both a student and a working professional, this experience taught me the importance of communication and maintaining relationships with the media. By following these tips, I earned media coverage from the Point Pleasant Register and WBYG-99.5 Big Country radio station for the Community Branding Kickoff. I look forward to seeing where these tips will take the media coverage of our community branding initiative in the future.
My name is Ruth Deely—most people call me Ruthie. I am the public relations and community relations director for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant Project. I have 40 first cousins, and I love catching up with them at my family reunions. Follow me through our journey — @ruthhh003