- Updated: 06 May 2015
1. Identify media outlets, reporters, and their audiences.
Build a media list of television, radio, newspapers, newsletters, and magazines that you’ll want to share your news with near your Unit home base and in the locations of your rallies and other events. Remember to include the growing list of travel and RV websites and bloggers.
To find daily newspapers, visit the US Newspaper List or simply search Google for all media outlets. The Cision (Bacon’s) Media Directory and the Writer’s Market can be accessed at your local library (or you can subscribe for a fee).
On your list, include:
- Outlet name
- Type of media (TV, radio, newspaper, etc.)
- Broadcast call letters, channel, network affiliate, etc.
- Publication day(s)
- Content deadlines
- Main phone number, and sometimes fax number
- Description (general news, Spanish language, outdoor, business, music and talk, etc.)
- Contact (reporters and editors)
- Contact title
- Contact email address
- Contact social media address(es)—Twitter name, etc.
- Best method and time for contacting them
All of the names of reporters and producers who cover community news, local columnists, feature writers, and on-air reporters and personalities can be found on the news outlet’s website (look for tabs labeled “anchors and reporters”, “personalities”, “contact the news teams”, etc.) or in a printed publication’s staff box. If you need help, simply call the main phone number and ask for the name you’re looking for.
Familiarize yourself with the daily, weekly, neighborhood, and niche market newspapers in your target area.
Daily newspapers usually publish in metropolitan areas and sometimes circulate additions tailored to local subregions. They are typically divided into distinct sections: national news, local news, features, editorials, columns, opinion editorials (op eds), letters to the editor, and special weekly sections about health, travel, green living, parenting, or other topic. Learn the names of the reporters and editors of all the areas of the newspaper (and the photography staff), what their beat is, and how they might want to cover your story.
Include the city editor, editorial page editor, columnists who have an interest in community events, writers for the community calendar and/or community events page, and photo editor. Your large metro daily paper will provide an email address for submitting news directly to the newsroom staff.
Weekly papers are similar in format but stories will have longer lead times. Weeklies often target small towns, neighborhoods, and niche audiences. Learn how often they are published, and who they reach.
Magazines focus on stories with more detail, angled to their audience. Be familiar with the magazines published in your region and identify those that would be most receptive to WBCCI programs and activities. Add relevant national magazines and trade publications to your list, and don’t forget the Blue Beret!
Television is the media vehicle with the furthest reach. Identify the affiliate stations of national network news (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and NPR). Learn the audiences and reporters for each. Don’t forget locally-produced morning and weekend shows.
Determine who the local cable providers are; some communities have their own local cable news networks.
Add the names of the assignment editors who plan the stories, news editors, producers, reporters and on-air personalities, and producers of specific shows including morning shows, community programs, minority-positioned news and public affairs programs.
Your nationally-affiliated station will have an email address especially for submitting news that’s monitored by the newsroom assignment editors or staff. Look online and find the “send us your news tip”, “hotline”, “submit press releases” or “sharing your news” information for addresses and instructions.
Though there are more radio stations today than ever before, many belong to a national radio broadcasting company. Most still provide local news and information, and all tailor their programming to a specific audience.
Determine the area radio station formats and audiences, especially those that include talk radio and news segments.
Public affairs programs—radio and TV shows designed to take an in-depth look at community news—usually involve interviews and can be a great way to share your story. Learn about the Public Affairs programming in your region, including cable access stations.
Minor market radio can be an excellent avenue for publicity; many stations have talk programming and are eager to find interview subjects. Your spokesperson can be interviewed in advance on the phone, or in the studio at the station when your members arrive in the community.
Add the names of all the radio news directors, assignment desk staff, public affairs show hosts and producers, and on air personalities to your media list.
News-oriented websites are now a heavily relied upon source for easily accessed, up-to-date information. Like most of the media vehicles above, websites are targeted to specific audiences. Take time to search the internet to understand where your target audience is gathering information online.
Most national and local television, print, and radio outlets have an online presence. While many news websites carry the same name as a newspaper or TV station, the online editions are different, targeted to different audiences, and the same editors and reporters may not work for both. Note the differences in your media list.
Newsletters are an excellent way to reach a very targeted audience. Large companies in your area, local churches, camping and RV groups, car clubs, universities, school districts, and even nearby WBCCI Units and regions have publications needing relevant news to share with their readers. Be sure to include them in your list, and local business journals that cover community-specific news.
Don’t forget minority communities and the outlets that serve them, as well as faith-based media and programming.
Most media outlets in the United States are members of one of the major newswire services like the Associated Press that compile stories from many sources and post them for their member journalists. AP has a bureau in each state and should be contacted when you have news that’s appropriate for a statewide audience; add the regional bureau chief or assignment editor to your list. Visit the AP website to find a list of AP branches by state.
Explore the free online press release services. Pitch Engine allows you to post a news release for a limited time that includes photos and social media links. Google “free online press releases” for other options.