Building a 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
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.
|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.||Your local TV station that covers local news daily.||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.
2. Send out your media advisory:
A media advisory is a brief statement that tells reporters everything they need to know about your delivery and this campaign more broadly.
Once you've customized your advisory, you need to fax or email it to the reporters on your list. These days most reporters 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.
3. Call the reporters:
Calling reporters is the most important part of contacting the media. This is your chance to tell them how exciting our campaign is, and why they should cover it -- either now or in the future.
Before you start the calls, review the press calls script. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you’ll say before starting your calls. Practice it with a friend or say it out loud a few times (don't worry – even the professionals do this). 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, try asking if there's an entertainment editor or someone who covers "human interest" stories.
You should call reporters (and email bloggers!) twice: once right after you send your advisory on Tuesday morning (or whenever you send your advisory), and again on Thursday, 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.