Whatever the size of your community or your available resources, a successful media outreach effort must incorporate certain fundamental elements. These basic elements can be as simple or as complicated as seems appropriate, but they must be in place:
- Identify one or more spokespersons who are comfortable with your messages and available to speak with the media. They can be experts on pressing issues, victims willing to talk about their stories, partnering organizations, the Weed and Seed site coordinator, or other credible representatives. For those who do not have much experience with media interviews, you might want to look into media training to maximize their level of comfort.
- Identify your Weed and Seed media contact. This person can be different from your spokesperson. Your media contact—likely your public information officer—is the person the media will call for more information, to set up an interview with the appropriate spokesperson, to ask questions, and more. Unlike the spokesperson, the contact's name and telephone number will appear on all media materials.
- Develop an outreach plan that lists all upcoming Weed and Seed events and announcements and outlines your planned media activities. These activities may range from a simple opinion editorial about a promising statistic to a news release about a major event or a full media conference about an important new program.
- Implement a system to monitor the quantity and quality of your earned media coverage to aid in evaluating your communication efforts. Media monitoring is offered through monitoring companies for a fee. You also can track coverage internally, especially in smaller markets with fewer outlets, by conducting Internet searches for Weed and Seed mentions in your local media.
- Use a variety of media materials—general and event-specific—compiled in a special folder or as separate pieces. These materials will form the building blocks of your media kits.