SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Public Relations & the Media

How to Build Relations With Your Local Media1

Having your story printed, televised or aired is an exciting achievement. A story featuring your organization increases the public’s awareness about SIDS and infant death. This can attract the attention of politicians, donors and volunteers who might be willing to support your project or take action. The National Council of Nonprofit Associations has some suggestions on how to interact and build relationships with the media:

  1. Reporters and newspapers often specialize in writing about certain issues and topics. Try to contact a health editor, for example, and read their stories. Tell the reporter that you are contacting them because you read their stories and have information that could help them write a new story on your topic.
  2. Build relationships with the media so it will be easier for your story to be printed or placed on the air. One way to build rapport is to regularly share your insights with reporters on stories that they have published about SIDS and infant death. Another way is to offer any additional information that you feel a reporter may have omitted when covering a topic in which you have expertise.
  3. Put reporters on your mailing list for annual reports, research reports and invitations to special events.
  4. Respond to a reporter’s call in a timely manner, typically within a few hours.
  5. Develop a file with relevant infant mortality statistics and data.
  6. Become a resource for information.
  7. Help reporters find experts for their stories by referring them to experts who are good with the media and will support your message.
  8. Help reporters find good graphics and images. Reporters often need charts, lists, photographs and graphics as illustrations for their stories.
  9. Invite a reporter to lunch at your organization to meet with staff, a board member and your constituency.
  10. Create and update a “For the Press” section on your Web site. This section should list key contacts, highlight your mission and list press releases and potential story ideas.
  11. Thank reporters when they write a story featuring your organization.
  12. Send them creative story ideas and be prepared to follow up on your suggestions if they are accepted.

If you want to have successful relationships with a reporter (and also great media coverage), you need to think, act and write like a reporter. Why? Because you will be making their job easier. The easier a story is to write, the greater chance it will be written.

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