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Working with the Media

The media plays a powerful role in the dissemination of information  As an advocate for affordable housing, you will need to establish relationships with reporters. Here are some tips on how to work with the media:

Pitching to the Media.
A good pitch includes the frames and messages you've developed to concisely state the larger problem, your organization's solution and the specific action you are calling for. Your success at pitching depends on how well you convince the reporter that your story is timely and should be told now. A media advisory should include: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Pick up the phone.
Your press release can languish in an inbox unless you follow-up with short phone calls. It's important to have direct communication with media to get on their radar and have a reporter assigned to your story. Make calls in the morning, before the deadline crunch.

Be a resource.
Journalists will see you as a go-to source if you consistently offer accurate, up-to-date information, meet deadlines, deliver good sound bites and offer interesting angles. Provide other contacts to reporters, even from the other side, if requested. Give reporters a direct line and put your cell phone number on your press release. Make yourself available at all times.

Be Relevant.
Your pitch or press release should be targeted toward the publication's audience or the individual journalist's beat (ie. Real Estate, Business, Local News, etc.) 

Know your facts.
If you do not know the answer to a reporter's question, do not make up something. You can spin your response with a talking point, but if what they want is a specific fact or statistic, connect them to someone who knows the answer.

Respect deadlines.
Find out about reporters' deadlines: They live by deadlines and they are inflexible. If you have not called back by 3 or 4 pm at a print newspaper, the reporter will get nervous. By 4:30, you will be out of the story.

Share Your Opinion.
The Op Ed page of daily newspapers is an accessible space to showcase your organization and summarize your message. This page is read by major decision-makers—business people, politicians and their staffs, CEOs, scholars, and involved citizens who are potential advocates of your cause. Social media (Twitter, Facebook ,etc) is also an accessible and high-impact forum to raise awareness for your cause.

Excerpt from Spin Project


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