Media outreach, or media relations, is an ongoing process. Building a relationship with the media can be an important component of your organization's community outreach efforts. The media can help spread your message effectively and widely. When you work with the media, keep in mind that their job is to draw readers, viewers, or listeners to their outlet by running relevant, compelling, and localized stories. The following are some basic considerations for building effective relationships with the media:
- Consider lead times - Each media outlet will likely have its own preference for how far in advance it would like to receive information for a potential story. For example, most monthly magazines prefer to receive materials for consideration 3 to 5 months in advance, newsletters often require receipt of information 4 to 6 weeks before printing, and daily newspapers may only need 1 week to develop and run a story. By securing editorial calendars for print publications or by contacting editors/producers at individual outlets you can get a good sense of how early they need to receive information.
- Know the reporter - Reporters typically have a "beat" or issue they cover. Building relationships with key reporters and editors will ensure that information is communicated through the right media contact or news medium. As you read and listen to the news media, identify reporters who might cover stories of interest to your organization or program.
- Be sensitive to deadlines - Reporters usually work under tight deadlines and often need information quickly. Be proactive about asking reporters for their deadlines so you're aware of them in the future.