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How to use the media to promote your cause

There are a few different types of media you can use to promote your organisation, issue or event and you can be as creative as you like. But here are some of the typical ways to get publicity.

Submitted 4/10/2006 By Thea Views 13966 Comments 0 Updated 4/11/2008


Photographer : FireFawks @ flickr

Media releases

A media release will either be loved or hated by the media people who read it. Make them love it—keep it out of the bin and on their desk.

Hook them in with a good 'lead' at the start. The 'who', 'what', 'when' and 'where' should be in the first paragraph.

They'll love it if:
  • it's newsworthy (see the 'how to speak to the media' page)
  • it's no longer than one page and each paragraph is kept short
  • it's written in media release 'inverted pyramid' style, with the most important information first (so if they have to shorten it, they can just cut off the last couple of paragraphs and it'll still make sense)
  • there're no mistakes in spelling, punctuation or grammar
  • there's contact details for someone in your organisation who will be able to answer questions or arrange interviews or photographs to go with the story

They'll hate it if:
  • it's sent at the wrong time e.g. last thing on a Friday afternoon or just before publishing/broadcast deadline
  • it's sent to the wrong person or department e.g. advertising instead of news/editorial
  • it's written about something that's already happened or is not happening until a much later date

Radio and Community Service Announcements

Some radio stations will do Community Service Announcements (CSAs) for you for free.

All you have to do is write a short script—the length will depend on the radio station's own rules, but usually up to 30 seconds—and then they'll read it out on air for you at certain times over an agreed period.

Remember to write out the names of people, places or things in full (no acronyms) and also write the phonetic spelling of a word after it in brackets if it is a word the radio presenter is unlikely to be able to pronounce.

Another way to get on to radio is to offer an interview to the presenters or producers of a specific program. You can get someone from your organisation to be interviewed on a topic that is relevant to what the program covers and will also give them the chance to talk about your organisation.

Email lists

Tap into the email lists of interest groups, community organisations, university clubs and online web-rings. People are on these lists because they are interested in the type of news the emails let them know about. If your story fits in with this type of news, get it on the e-newsletter of a relevant email list.

You can do this by using a search engine to find relevant clubs, societies and organisations and then calling or emailing the secretary or other contact to ask how to submit something for inclusion in their e-newsletter.

Websites

Lots of websites have a 'links' page. If your cause is linked to their cause, be on it. You can offer to do a links swap, where you put a link to their website on your website and then they can list yours on theirs. Just send them an email or give them a call.

Thea is completing a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) at RMIT University, Melbourne. She was part of the first Act Now incubator team.