How to Get Media Coverage for Your Campaign
Media coverage is a great way to build awareness, recruit supporters, pressure decision-makers, and drive your campaign to victory. Posts on issue-specific blogs, articles in local and national newspapers, and live news stories can expand your reach beyond your existing networks. However, it’s often easier said than done. But fear not! Our press team has compiled these four helpful tips that will teach you how to get media coverage for your campaign.
1. Tell the right story at the right time
Reporters share new stories that impact our daily lives. These stories often include timely events that involve conflict, a compelling human interest angle, unusual circumstances, and prominent/influential people. The keyword here is “timely”.
The trick to getting media coverage is telling the right story, at the right time.
Before you begin your outreach, here are a few questions to consider:
- Is your campaign related to an issue or event that is currently in the news? This is a great way to gauge whether or not an issue is trending. It also helps you do some preliminary research to identify reporters that are already covering the topic.
- Are you willing to share a personal story that resonates with others? Reporters are storytellers. Being able to reference a personal story allows a reporter to incorporate a compelling human interest angle and appeal to a wider audience.
- Does your campaign center around an upcoming event? Board meetings, elections, congressional votes, and other timely events can entice reporters to pick up your story. This is where the “new” in “news” comes into play.
- Does your campaign target executives at well-known companies or policymakers? Reporters are more likely to report on influential people.
- Have you made an attempt to discuss your campaign goals with your target? A reporter is going to want to know what you’ve done to get in contact and may reach out to that person or organization for a comment.
- Is your campaign marked as a victory on Causes and have you successfully made an impact? Campaigns that have achieved victory are more newsworthy because they demonstrate how online activism has created offline impact.
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re ready to start doing your research.
2. Research, research, research
If you ask any reporter for one piece of advice, they’ll probably say,
“Do your research before sending a pitch!”
Extensive research will not only help you write a well-informed pitch, but also identify reporters who cover topics that are related to your campaign. The people who have previously written about your cause are the reporters you want to pitch. You can conduct research by:
- Reading recent articles and op-eds that are relevant to your campaign
- Searching YouTube for related news segments
- Following the conversation on Twitter
- Gathering contact information for media. You can find contact details directly on news websites or by using Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. If you can’t find an individual’s email address, send your pitch to a newsroom@ or tips@ email alias (Ex: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
Pro TipThink strategically about who you’ll be sending your pitch to. If you’re campaign is targeting a local official or addressing a local community issue, you’ll probably want to pitch local media outlets first. If you have success, you can then try to pitch national media outlets.
3. Make your pitch compelling and concise
Now it’s time to craft your pitch. Use interesting, emotional, and meaningful language to tell your story. The best pitches are both authentic and thought-provoking. It’s also important to keep in mind that reporters get hundreds of pitches every day and spend only a few seconds reading each one. Brevity is your friend.
Grab their attention
The first step is to grab the reporter’s attention with a catchy subject line related to the issue. Here’s a few examples:
- “Thousands Campaign Against CNN Media Bias”
- “Local Mom Starts A Crusade Against Son’s Elementary School”
- “Stoners Put Down the Munchies and Pick Up their Phones!”
You want to stand out from the crowd, so spend some time and get creative.
Describe your campaign’s story
Once you’ve grabbed their attention, describe your campaign in the body of the email. Remember, keep it concise. In your first sentence, explain why you think the reporter will be interested in telling your campaign’s story. In the next few sentences, be sure to communicate the following:
- Goal of the campaign
- Number of campaign supporters
- People and/or organizations that are involved
- Your personal involvement/reason for starting the campaign
- Ways in which others can help your campaign
- Optional: Event details including what, when, where, and why.
Include additional resources
Include links to additional resources that make your pitch more exciting and prove that you are a credible source, such as related images and videos, interesting stats from recent industry reports, and/or insightful comments and posts from the campaign. Don’t forget to add your contact information and a link to the campaign.
Finally, proofread your email and, when ready, click “send”.
Pro TipSince your goal is to generate positive coverage, only pitch campaigns that have been well-researched and include reliable information. Use professional language and tone. And remember, everything you send is considered “on the record”.
In case you’ve never written a pitch before, here’s a sample template for you to follow.
Hi [reporter name],
I see that you’ve been covering [issue related to your campaign] and thought you’d be interested in the campaign I launched on Causes [add link to campaign].
[This would be a sentence or two about why you launched the campaign and why the reporter should care.] Over [insert number of campaign supporters] people have already [insert action type (pledge, petition, fundraiser)]. Please let me know if you’re interested in additional information. I’d be happy to chat and share more details on the campaign’s progress.
[your contact information]
Pro TipDon’t promise anything you cannot deliver. Be mindful of reporter’s deadlines and provide relevant and reliable assets promptly. If you’re offering yourself as a spokesperson, plan ahead by writing out your top three “talking points” and practice interviewing with friends.
4. Follow up with each reporter
If you haven’t heard back in a week, it doesn’t hurt to follow up with each reporter and share campaign updates that show progress. If they still don’t reply to your email, try contacting them via Twitter and LinkedIn. See the Pro Tip below for more advice.
You can also follow up by phone (just make sure you’re not calling a personal cell phone number). We recommend starting the conversation by confirming availability. For example, “Hi Brad, this is Laura, a mother of a cyber-bullying victim. I’m calling about a campaign that urges local public schools to enforce strict punishment against cyber-bullying. Do you have two minutes to hear more about the campaign?”
Follow up by sending a “thank you” email, even if you weren’t able to secure coverage for your campaign. You never know when you’ll have another great campaign that you want to share.
Pro TipWhen following up with a reporter, try to be persistent without being annoying . Reporters are busy people and you’re competing with hundreds of pitches, deadlines, and breaking news. Don’t take a lack of response or rejection personally. Even the best PR professionals can’t guarantee coverage results.
Remember, Causes is always here to help our campaign leaders be successful. If you have any media-related questions, feel free to contact our press team here.