Media Training


Handling the Media

Try to choose a "media friendly" time of day and day of the week. Keep in mind that newspapers and the wire services (Associated Press, United Press International etc.) close their stories by 5 or 6 p.m. That means if you want a story in the next day's papers, the demonstration would ideally end before 2 or 3 p.m. Local television news can be less rigid. They may be able to tape up until an hour or two before air time or, if your demo is really spectacular, they might be able to put you on live during the broadcast. Don't count on any of this. If your story is "in the can" early in the day, and you have time to flesh out your story to the producer or on-camera reporter, you're in a better position.

So, what does all this mean for time of day? Noon or earlier is best. As far as day of the week goes, Mondays through Thursdays are best. Saturday is okay (to get in the Sunday paper) but keep in mind that your target will probably not be in his/herfits official location on Saturday so the demo loses impact. Friday is not the best day because Saturday papers are the lowest in circulation.

Encourage clear, concise, dramatic visuals for the demonstration. If a photograph or a few seconds of video coverage can get your main point across and look interesting doing it, your chances of getting media coverage are greatly increased.

Find media friends ahead of time. Contact any friends you have in the media. Find out what help they can be in covering your demo. Friends means anyone from personal friends working in the media to friends who have friends in the media to any reporter in your area who has covered AIDS or AIDS-related issues. If they've done bad reporting in the past, give them a chance to redeem themselves by properly educating them. Encourage advance, day-of, and follow-up coverage of the issue and/or the demo.

Put together a press kit. Your press kit should contain a detailed explanation and background material on the issue. You should also include any related articles you think are helpful, and some background on your organization. If you have the time and resources you might want to send some press kits out to reporters a couple of weeks ahead of the demonstration. Otherwise, make them available to any reporters who ask for information. It is also helpful to take some press kits with you to the demonstration.

The press release. Your press release should be no longer than one page. In general a press release should give the who, what, where, when, and why in the first paragraph. The next paragraphs should detail the what and the why, give more details on the issue. Strong adjectives are good, and a dramatic and emotional quote is always helpful. Put your media contact person and his/her phone number at the top.

Who to send the release to and how to find them. Send the press release to media contacts that you've had in the past, or that you've just discovered. Find the local newspaper reporters who might cover either AIDS issues or political demonstrations. Call the news editors of the papers if you're not sure. Notice what television and radio stations and reporters have covered such stories. Find out if there are any local reporters f