These roles could all be done by one person, or spread across numerous volunteers, though we suggest having one person designated to oversee delegation. This is not an exhaustive list, but can be a helpful start so that “media” doesn’t all fall on one person.
👤 Press List Maintainer
Before a press release goes out, you need to know who it is going to. The ongoing development of a press list is a key ingredient. The size of the press list isn’t the goal — but a quality press list, with press who will look forward to your call or press release. A press list can be as simple as below, and well maintained it can naturally grow over the course of a campaign:
|Type of Media
(TV, Daily Newspaper, Weekly, Blog, Monthly Magazine)
Additional columns may include: Title, Address, Fax, Interest/Beat, Twitter, and Internal Contact (who in our group has the best relationship with them).
- After sending out press releases, updating any bounces/returned mail with new contact information
- Continuing to add to the list with new researched contacts, via:
- Contacting newsrooms and editorial desks (to find the right beat reporter, you can always ask “who would be most likely to cover this story?”)
- Collecting reporter’s contact information; eg. those who cover related climate/environmental, politics, or community events from all sources (twitter, blogs, print media, TV, radio)
- Asking other activists/social justice organizations/unions if they would share their media list
👤 Write & Send Press Advisories and Press Releases
Someone has to write the press advisories and releases.
- Write press advisory at least a week ahead of the action
- Start drafting press release to be sent after the action at least a week ahead of the action (you need enough time to be sure you can collect all quotes, edit and translate if needed)
- Send press advisory one week before, and then a day before the action
- Follow-up calls to reporters (“pitching”)
- Sending a full press release after the action, with possible follow-up calls
👤 Media Wrangler at Events
This is someone who, during an action, handles the press, connecting them to sources and giving them background information. This does not have to be the spokesperson, but someone who is willing to seek press during actions and make sure they are getting the information they need.
- Know which reporters you’re looking for
- Bring printed press releases and/or be ready to forward it from your phone
- Connect press with appropriate spokespeople
- Chat with them about the campaign, be friendly, get them on your side
- Get updated press contact info
- If appropriate, send follow up answers to questions
- Make sure someone is taking photographs/videos
👤 Media Spokesperson
Someone has to talk with the press. It does not have to be someone who talks like the press but needs to be well-informed about all the details. Most important is that they can speak clearly, articulating the goals and reasons people are taking action.
- Be consistent with the tone of the action
- Model the values of the organisation and represent them in word and deeds
- Be short-and-sweet, be quotable
👤 Press Clippings
To keep track of which news sources are covering you, many groups have someone organise “press clippings” or create a media tracking spreadsheet as a simple internal document with links to media articles mentioning the campaign/action. These should be sent after major actions for reflection on what worked.
Press clippings can go further and include articles related to the campaign. This is a great way to find new reporters. It’s also one of the best ways to get good at media — by analysing themes in the media. This will help you make stronger pitches by connecting to issues the media already show they care about.
- Collect press clippings
- Circulate press clippings, especially after major events