|The impact of any event or action your group plans can be greatly
enhanced by media attention. Larger events relevant to the surrounding
community can reach an audience of hundreds of thousands if covered by a
TV station or daily paper. Media attention can put you in contact with
people in your community working on similar issues who will lend
A good rule of thumb is to spend 10% of your organizing time on attracting press. For small events, you need spend only a few minutes on press outreach. Send a personal note to an editor you know at your campus paper and follow up with a few calls. For large events, consider the likelihood of coverage from each news source on your media list before wasting paper and time. Remember that some TV stations have no news on weekends, that daily newspapers run small issues on Saturdays and Mondays, and that "big name" reporters schedule their assignments as much as two weeks in advance.
Suggestions for attracting the media to larger campus events
Press Release SuggestionsA press release should include the rationale for an event, what you are trying to change, and all relevant information that you would want to be considered by a journalist, but keep it brief. Include your strongest facts or stances. Reporters may use your exact words and text of your release. One page with all event information is standard. At the top of your press release, include the date you want the information to first be announced (usually the day of the event, never later). Immediately below, include the names of at least two press spokespeople, one of which must be available during business hours. Right below that, write the title, time, date, location, directions, and names of participants in your event.
Have a group of people has a review the drafts of the press release. This group will be able to divide the work of followup calls.
The body of your release should be written in clear simple English, with short sentences so that it could be read on the air. The first sentence should describe the whole event: "Two hundred students rallied today at the University of Buffalo to demand a 50% reduction in their tuition, which is now $15,000 per year." The rest of the release should explain everything so simply and clearly that your aunt or your grandfather would understand what you were trying to accomplish.
What about press conferences?A press conference is a formal presentation of your case designed exclusively for the press. The key question to ask when deciding whether to have a press conference is, "Will reporters come?" You will be best off when there is some other big event (perhaps organized by the university) to which your press conference can serve as a form of "counterdemonstration." Or when a big story that has been brewing for weeks or months finally breaks, such as the results of a campus referendum. A press conference announcement only needs to be one page long, usually with the information about time, location, topic, participants, etc. spelled out in outline form. Make sure reporters receive it two days before the event. Followup calls should be made to key reporters and then on the morning of the event.