Working with the media can sometimes be intimidating. Following are some tips to help make contacting editors and reporters a little easier:
Get to know your local media. Familiarize yourself with local newspapers and other publications, radio or television stations before you pick up the phone, so you can talk about how the story fits into their editorial content. Media are often wary of a business or person who seems to be self-promoting.
Get your information in the right hands. Call the media outlet to find out contact information for the editors or reporters of specific sections, whether it's business, health or features. Respect their time. Ask if it's a good time to talk. Avoid dropping by in person unannounced.
Pitch your story. Call the media contacts or fax/e-mail a letter to them outlining your story idea. To make it easier, we have provided a sample letter for you here. Once you have sent the letter, be sure to call the media contacts to follow-up on the information. Convince them that the story offers their viewers/readers valuable information. Consistently follow-up with the same contact and offer any additional assistance. Some reporters want a "local or human-interest angle." Suggest that you arrange an interview with a patient you’ve successfully treated.
Grab your calendar. If you are promoting an event, remember to add it to local calendar listings. Most news outlets have Web sites that allow readers to post upcoming events. Or you can contact the calendar editor to get your event published in print or announced on the air.
Be aware of deadlines. Weekly community publications may need information up to 10 days in advance. Newspapers, radio and television stations usually need information at least 48-72 hours in advance.
Timing is everything. Before you call keep in mind: If a major story has broken, you won't likely catch their attention. Call another day. For daily newspapers, call in the morning after 10 a.m. when deadlines are not as tight.
Return calls immediately. Don't keep a reporter or editor waiting - you may lose your story opportunity.
Know your stuff. Prepare yourself or other staff members for a possible interview. Some reporters may call and arrange appointments in person; others may request telephone interviews. Just be sure you are ready to answer all questions in advance.
Get visual. Consider visuals before you pitch your story idea. Editors appreciate suggestions on photo ideas. They may ask for a picture of you or of your office, or send a photographer to get some shots.
Thanks! Once your information has been published, send a thank-you note to your media contact.