Media general tips

Best practices for spreading your message

Knowing how to attract media attention is critical when promoting an event or raising awareness about the importance of afterschool in your community, but reaching out to the media can seem daunting at first—we're here to help!

Consider these tips before you launch your next media outreach campaign.

How the News Media Works:

  • Generally speaking, most news stories have to do with conflict and events and issues that affect the readership or broadcast audience. Stories often take local angles on national issues, are appealing human interest stories, or cover celebrity events.
  • Journalists usually work on very tight timelines.
  • Local media generally focus on local news. National news coverage in local newspapers, on local television, and on radio news programs is often provided to the station by national wire services or broadcast news services.
  • Most local markets have at least a handful of radio (and sometimes television) talk shows. Many of these are excellent outlets.

Type of Media

Print

TV

Radio

Timeline

Usually daily

Usually daily, even hourly with late-breaking news

Usually daily for news, but varies

Who to contact about stories

Reporter assigned to cover local schools, otherwise an editor

Assignment desk editors route incoming news releases and decide who, if anyone, will cover a given story

Assignment editor decides whether a local station will cover a story and who will cover it

Length

Varies from a news brief (a few paragraphs) to a feature story (which can be several thousand words)

Typically less than a minute or two long

Very brief, often less than a minute or two

Important Notes

Emphasize newsworthiness, such as local angles on national trends, "new" information, conflict, etc.

Must have images to go along with news

Typically do not gather their own news, but report from other news sources

How to Best Communicate With the Media:

  • You will need to choose from among a number of vehicles for getting your message out, including news releases, news conferences, meetings with editorial writers and much more. Each method is effective for particular types of work. See our Pitch the Media section for more information on the different approaches you might take.
  • To conduct a media effort well, you'll need a telephone number the media can use to reach you or a message-taker every time they try. No busy signals allowed!

When to Communicate With the Media

  • Reach out to the media when you have an interesting and newsworthy story.
  • Reach out when there's a story already in the news to which you can contribute a useful "afterschool" perspective.
  • Reach out when you need to respond to a negative development.

How to Frame Your Message:

  • The public is overwhelmingly supportive of afterschool programs. (See our Poll Data for more details about 9 in 10 voters supporting afterschool.)
  • Plan your message carefully.
  • Make sure you deliver the important points of your message every time. Even if you've heard yourself make those points a thousand times, your audience hasn't!
  • Consider a core message that touches on the way afterschool programs free parents of a major worry about their children's afternoon time, the enormous educational and social benefits of afterschool, and afterschool programs' track record of keeping children safe and away from bad behaviors.