Involving the media
Local papers need local stories, and communities want to feel connected with local issues. Telling your stories through media and social media will help raise awareness of your cause, and could help you gain support.
A successful media campaign can influence whether an issue is viewed with sympathy or dissent by local people, and in turn, councillors, commissioners and MPs, so making contact with journalists and involving them in your campaign is a worthwhile exercise.
Journalists rely on being given local stories about local issues, so supplying them with a steady flow of information will create more opportunity for your voice to be heard. Invite journalists to attend events and, where possible, provide them with willing and relevant interviewees. Keep them up to date with what is going on locally and the work you are doing.
Press releases are a useful tool for setting out your story and selling it to journalists. Our template provides a good starting point and some tips for making your press release stand out and get noticed.
A press release isn’t always necessary though. Calling journalists to tell them about your campaign is often the quickest way of building relationships with your local press.
What makes news?
Journalists are only interested in stories that are newsworthy. The following will appeal:
This is unavoidable but can actually present a good opportunity for comment
- Statistics and research
Journalists are always interested in the results of research. Providing facts and figures is a good way to argue the merits or failings of, for example, a service or piece of legislation
Stories about people and organisations doing something new or unusual are always appealing to journalists.
- A wider context
Where possible, try to present local issues in the context of national debates, such as welfare reform. This gives local stories more political clout and makes them more appealing to journalists and editors
- Human stories with personal accounts
Stories with a genuine human interest angle are powerful and effective so you should, wherever appropriate, involve your clients and local people.
- Photo opportunities
An interesting picture can help to sell a story, so think about to use this to your advantage. For example, if an MP is visiting your service, let your local paper know and invite them to send a photographer. They want the photo and the MP wants the publicity, so everyone wins.
Social media offers an unrivalled opportunity to communicate messages to, and build networks with, an enormous audience. Social networks are all around – every smartphone owner likely has access to at least one social media app, meaning there is the potential to communicate with people at all times of the day, wherever they go.
Almost all councillors, MPs, journalists, and organisations are now on Twitter, so this is a great way of building networks, interacting and sharing information. Getting a following on Twitter can really help get a campaign or issue into the public domain.