One of the most important things is to get your story heard and to create public interest in your story. Doing this will put pressure on your officials to at least listen to you. The only way to do this is by going to the media.
How to know who to contact
Finding out who to contact is easy. Just look at all the local and national online and printed publications and all the broadcast and cable news outlets who are talking about and reporting on your issues. Take note of who the reporters are. In some cases, reporters will be assigned to topics, so make sure that you find out who the political, education and community reporters are. For television or talk shows on the radio, learn who the producers and/or show bookers are.
From those names you can build a media list. You will be shocked to see how many reporters starty reaching out to you for comment once you start appearing in the media.
It is imperative to read each reporter’s work because it will be an indication of how they will lean when writing your story. Create a media list of those names, and read what reporters produce in order to determine how they will cover you and your issue. Don’t discount the ones that are not sympathetic to your cause. Slowly get to know them, as you can change their viewpoints if you come prepared with data. At the very least you can get them to acknowledge that their are other points of view worth reporting on.
Ways to to interact with the press
If you speak with the press, there are various ways your conversation can be presented:
- On the record: This means that whatever you tell or send to the reporter can be used with no caveats and any source can be quoted by name
- Off the record: This means that the reporter cannot use the information you provide in any publication or report. You must get verbal confirmation when your conversation is “off the record.”
- Background: This means that what you tell the reporter can be used but only under the conditions that you stipulate. This also means that the reporter will not attribute the information to you or use your name. You can also negotiate to be quoted with a pseudonym or as a whistleblower or “parent,” something journalists are increasingly doing because they realize that parents and students fear retaliation.
How to pitch your story
Contact the reporter directly after you have written out your story in the most concise and interesting way possible. Make sure it is written in chronological order and that you have supporting documentation. You must convey the who, what, when, where and why of your story. Many times you will email them and never hear back. Don’t worry, this is normal until you develop a rapport with them. Just email them again being very respectful and polite. Don’t give up. If one doesn’t pick up your story, move on to the next.