10 Steps to Earn Media

Here are 10 steps to earn media attention for your chapter.  Follow all of these steps effectively, and you are guaranteed coverage.

1. Earned media -- media coverage you don't have to pay for (unlike advertising) -- should be a top priority. Spreading your message on campus will only go so far if only passersby hear about it. So how do you reach everybody that didn't walk by your display? You earn media!

Follow the golden earned media rule: If an activism event doesn't make it in the news, did it really happen?

2. Assign a Press Coordinator to be responsible for this task. He or she should be highly professional, articulate, and one of your YAL chapter's best representatives. Share these instructions with them and work with them to accomplish every step.

A. You will send out a press release approximately one week before your event.

B. Your media advisory should arrive in your media contact's inbox and/or desk the day before your event.

C. And you should prepare a final press release to go out immediately after your event concludes, the sooner the better.

Make sure your press coordinator follows up each one of these releases with a phone call. The most important step to earning media is calling all of your press contacts and talking to them directly about your press release.

If you are able to build a professional relationship with a reporter over time, then you could become the media's go-to for all campus-related stories and the earned media will come rolling in.

4. Create a distribution list. Who will receive your press communications? Write down the name, title, media outlet, email address, phone number, and fax number of every press contact in an Excel file.

Go beyond your campus and collect contacts from local and statewide newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations. YAL will provide you with a media distribution list if you request one. Email rd@yaliberty.org and your Regional Director will email you a local press list from our national database.

5. Write down talking points and answers to questions members of the media will likely ask. When you speak to a reporter, be prepared. Get together with a friend or chapter member and hold a mock interview. Know what you are going to say before you are even asked!

6. Send out your press release 3-5 days before your event.  Use a free mass email service like Mailchimp to make sure your email looks professional.  If you cannot use Mailchimp, use the BCC function in your email inbox to make sure your media contacts do not see each other's email addresses.  Do not send the release as an attachment; put all the text in the body of the email.

Before you send the final draft, have someone else read over it to make sure you didn't miss any spelling or grammatical errors.

7. Follow up your press release with phone calls or in-person meetings. This is the most important step! Members of the press literally receive hundreds of emails each day. With so much traffic, how do you expect them to read and report on your story? Call them!

Pick up the phone or walk into their office. Ask them if they received your press release. If they said they didn't see it, send it to them again. If you meet with them in person, bring copies with you. This step is vital. If you do not do this step, then do not expect much, if any, coverage.

8. The morning before your event, repeat steps 6 and 7, but this time send out your media advisory. The media advisory is a quick reminder and follow up to your press release. This will hopefully catch any reporter you may have missed previously.

Make sure you follow up with another phone call! This personal contact IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP and the difference between your story being reported or not.

9. On the day of your event, tie up all your loose ends, print out press releases and information about your chapter, make any last-second follow-up phone calls, and be at your event ready to greet the media.

Tell everyone to direct all media requests to the assigned press person in your chapter. It's very important you keep your message controlled and presented in the best way possible.  

10. Send a post-event press release. After your event, send out another press release summarizing your successes and accomplishments. Include facts, pictures, and interesting quotes.

Make follow-up phone calls once again to ensure they received your press release and answer any questions they may have.  Remember to get it in before the reporters' evening deadlines.

If you have any questions about how to earn media or need help with your press release, email rd@yaliberty.org and your Regional Director will follow up with you.