Media Outreach Tips
Promoting your chapter's activities and events will also promote your university and the CSD professions. Generating media publicity can be tricky, but we're here to help.
Build a Relationship With Your University
As your chapter starts planning events, contact your university's:
- Student activities office and/or communications office. They might be able to add your event to the university's calendar (or know who to contact to do so).
- Community relations/public relations office. They could be a great resource for contacting media outside of the university.
- Newspaper, TV stations, and radio stations. If they know about your event ahead of time, they can help promote it (and potentially cover the actual event). Don't forget to mention if there are good photo/multimedia opportunities.
Contact Local and Regional Media
Media outlets outside of your university (local and regional newspapers, TV, and radio) could also cover your events. The following steps and tips can help increase your chances of receiving coverage.
Create a Media List
Identify and find contact information for media professionals who would be most likely to write about or broadcast your story. (If a media outlet's website only provides a generic point of contact, instead of direct information for a specific journalist, reach out and ask if there is a reporter who would be most interested in your story.)
- Newspapers: Look for names of managing editors, city editors, health/medical reporters, feature editors, and/or special sections editors who would write about the CSD professions.
- TV: Look for names of news assignment editors and/or planning desk editors.
- Radio: Look for names of news directors and/or news assignment editors.
Create a spreadsheet with names and contact info. Leave space where you can write notes about your conversations (for example, “interested,” “call back at 2 p.m.,” “unable to attend but wants photos for publication").
Put Together Your Media Materials
- Prepare for talking with the media—what important information and/or statistics will you give them to make their story compelling?
- Identify your spokesperson for the event. (This can be your chapter advisor, chapter president, or another chapter leader.) Make sure they’re prepared with the most important talking points—the who, what, where, when, and why of the event.
- Prepare a script and talking points for what you’re going to say to a reporter if/when they contact you.
Send Your Pitch
- About two weeks in advance of your event, send a pitch letter, press release, and/or media alert to your media list. (But don’t swamp reporters with too many materials.)
- Request that your event be included in their community calendar.
- Place follow-up calls a couple of days after sending your pitch. Ask if they received the materials, if they’re interested in covering your event, and/or if they need additional info.
- If someone isn’t interested in your event, don’t pressure them.
- Call reporters who haven’t committed to your event or were unreachable the first time about one week before your event.
- Reporters are often on strict deadlines—respect their time! If you’re on a call with them, ask if they’re on a deadline. If so, ask if there’s a more convenient time when you can call back.
- Suggest several story angles. Keep in mind that journalists look for a "hook" to talk about. What's the justification for devoting valuable space to this particular story?
- If you are providing photos for them, ask for photo specs—image size, resolution, the kind of shot; always identify photo subjects with full names (left to right).
- Provide contact info for spokespeople who can be interviewed.
Day of the Event
- Verify who from the media is attending.
- Prepare a media check-in sheet to note who attended. Also note who was interested but couldn’t attend or failed to show up. This will be helpful when planning future events.
- Prepare extra press materials.
- Set up attention markers and props where it might be most interesting for media to film or take photos; tell photographers where the important/interesting shots will take place. Events with lots of people, action, bright colors, and large props provide the best visuals and will encourage media to film your event.
- Prepare your spokesperson for interviews.
After the Event
- Follow up with interested media outlets—did they get everything they needed for their story? When will the story run?
- Send a thank-you note to any media and organizations who helped make your event a success.
- Keep copies of any stories generated—and send them to the National NSSLHA Office! We may be able to highlight your successes in one of our publications.