Building Your Media Outreach Strategy
On this page we provide you with some insights into possible ways to reach out to the media, one of the most important but also one of the most difficult communication actions for ETC programmes and projects.
It may not always seem an utmost priority in your communications work, but good media relations are essential to create a positive image of your programme and to make it known among your target groups. If you want to generate press coverage about your programme, you need to speak to journalists. This may not always be an easy task since European Territorial Cooperation is sometimes not very tangible and therefore it is not easy to convince the media to find your story newsworthy.
So, first of all you should make sure you really have something interesting to tell. The worst is to bombard journalists with press releases on non-relevant issues. It may not be easy to identify interesting topics concerning your programme, but you should first of all ask yourself whether the story would be interesting for your local/regional media, national or even European media or all of them. For instance, journalists from regional media will tend to look at events from a local angle because their audiences care more about what the local impact will be. International journalists may be more interested in the big picture.
A journalist uses the news angle to tell readers why they should care about different things. Many developments that are fascinating and very important to people within European Territorial Cooperation programmes are not newsworthy outside the ETC world. This is why news angles are so important. To generate interest in your programme and projects you need to develop creative PR angles that will capture the interest of your audiences over the activities of your organisations.
Change, novelty and human interest are usually considered good angles and work better than general news about your programmes (eg about your call for proposals and its results). In this respect, many programmes were successful in using good project examples and related stories to obtain media coverage of the overall programme.
How Journalists Think
If you want to convince a journalist to write about your programme, you need to understand how he thinks and functions. It will undoubtedly help to build up personal relationships with journalists that cover European Affairs or your programme’s or projects’ priorities. There are a few additional rules you should respect:
Respect the journalist’s schedule (deadlines for publishing articles, organise press briefings rather in the morning…).
Journalists like to get exclusive news. Sometimes a phone call or a coffee can be much more efficient than sending out a press release to 1000 journalists.
Always call your journalist back, never let him/her wait!
The journalist has to sell your story to the editor-in-chief, so make his job as easy as possible by providing him with complete information and photo or audiovisual material if needed.
When you are in touch with local/regional journalists, make sure you communicate in their local language.
Different needs for different media (print needs photos, TV needs images and radio needs sounds/soundbites!).
In case you are organising a press event: prepare easy-to-read and complete press kits (including photos on a CD-rom, factsheets, contact addresses etc..).