The media is always looking for interesting stories. Your park group’s events, programs, improvements or advocacy can make a great story that can be featured in local newspapers, on radio or podcasts, or on websites or blogs. This can give a boost to your event, help attract volunteers, or get the public to rally behind your park improvements.

Get your timing right:

It’s useful to know how far in advance to share information with the media. Some media outlets work very far in advance, while others are fine with last minute requests:

  • Monthly publications like magazines usually work three to four months ahead
  • Weekly publications usually work four to six weeks ahead
  • Daily newspapers and radio stations usually start planning about a week ahead
  • Online publications vary, but advance notice will increase the chances of coverage

Keep track of key journalists & publications:

Get very familiar with the type of content different media outlets cover. You can start this process long before your ready to write a press release. In fact, it should be ongoing. List different media you can reach out to for different spins on the story you want to share. If you’re launching a community garden, the local paper might want to cover how a local seniors residence is involved. On the other hand, a gardening blog might highlight the unique flowers your group has selected to grow. Write a different version of your media release for any approach that you can support and has a group of media outlets that could be interested.

List different media you can reach out to for different spins on the story you want to share. If you’re launching a community garden, the local paper might want to cover how a local seniors residence is involved. On the other hand, the radio station might feature you in an interview on producing food in urban spaces. Write a different version of your media release for any approach that you can support and share various media outlets that could be interested.

Make the pitch:

Today, most journalists and bloggers prefer to be contacted by email. Subject lines are the first, and sometimes only, thing that a media contact will read–often times determining whether they will even bother to open your email or not. Make it relevant, not spammy. Find out how to say everything that you need to say in a paragraph or less in the body of an email. 

Make it easy:

If you’re inviting media to an event or launch make sure you create photo opportunities. Not all media will make it out to the events they cover. Have quality photos on hand that you can provide along with the media release. Be sure to provide photo credits. Also, include quotes in your release and have spokespeople ready and waiting to be interviewed.

Follow up and circle back:

If you don’t hear back from a reporter, send a quick follow-up email that includes something new and interesting that wasn’t in the original release as well as a copy of the press release. If you don’t get a response after one or two follow-up attempts, you could pitch your idea to another journalist at the same organization. It’s also an opportunity to step back and look at your pitch again. Is there a way you could make it more appealing?

Photo Credit: Mark Klotz

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