IMIX media director, Denise Meredith, shares her top tips on how to develop and manage media relations.
In my previous blog, From bad taste to the Nobel Peace Prize, I shared the story of how we moved the anti-landmines campaign into the public consciousness through developing long and meaningful relationships with the press. Developing media relations is a complex and time-consuming process. It’s about learning how the press think – and being absolutely clear as to why you are trying to get the coverage in the first place. You need to think about who you want to talk to, why and what you are trying to achieve. From my experience working across many different campaigning sectors, from the environment to immigration here are some of the most important lessons I have learnt.
1. Have a great human led story – or ideally several
2. Target journalists whose work you admire
3. Target media where audiences matter directly to your work
4. Think about timing. Timing for impact is crucial – when will this have the biggest advocacy impact? When will you cause the government the biggest headache? When will get you get the most cut through/sympathy/empathy?
5. Be realistic. Media hits are not paid for PR. If it doesn’t work for whatever reason, don’t give up – go back to them, approach a different outlet or find another angle.
6. Get to know and build a close relationship with a small cohort of trustworthy, high level, influential journalists – these can be national local or regional.
7. Consider local media. People trust regional and local media more than they do national – think about that when you write your campaign strategy.
8. It’s never a waste of time – every interaction with the press helps you build media intelligence
9. Despite the rise of ‘fake news’ and cuts to national news budgets – professional media work can uncover truths, expose injustices and remains a bedrock for democracy.
10. Great stories told well can be amazing projects to work on. Uplifting, shocking, exciting, moving… so be imaginative, be bold, be proactive and have fun.
Media coverage boosts understanding, funding, awareness and sometimes – crucially for our sector – empathy. Great media campaigns can and will change the conversation on immigration. Good luck!