In most local media markets, there is a wide range of ways for you to reach your audience. Some avenues cost money, such as when you buy time on television and radio stations or pay for an ad in the local paper. Other avenues are free, such as news coverage, editorials, letters to the editor, local talk shows, and human interest features. Knowing when and how to tap your various local media resources is the key to making your Weed and Seed messages cut through the fierce competition for media exposure.
To maximize your media efforts, use the recommendations below, and when they're in place, you can start making local media work for you.
- Compile a list of local media contacts. Compile a media list with contact information for your region's television and radio stations, daily and neighborhood newspapers, special interest publications, organization newsletters, and other potential communications vehicles. Be sure to include the names and contact information for key personnel.
- Keep your media list up to date. Staff changes are common in the communications industry. Phone each outlet regularly—and especially before a major Weed and Seed media effort—to verify your information.
- Develop relationships with key media in your community. Send background information about the Weed and Seed strategy and your local program, including your goals, and hold periodic briefing meetings with Weed and Seed leaders and top-level management and editorial boards of stations and newspapers.
- Get to know local media contacts. Set up information meetings with journalists and producers to tell them about Weed and Seed and to find out about their needs. Learn how they prefer to be contacted, the best times to reach them, and the times to avoid. Find out about their interests and beats, and observe what types of stories they cover.
- Establish your credibility and the credibility of your partners. Be in touch with journalists and producers to keep them apprised of what's happening as part of your Weed and Seed initiative. Be honest, accurate, and helpful, and you'll become the person they come to when they cover your community or topics on which you've established yourself as a knowledgeable, reliable, and trustworthy source.
- Develop a communications plan. Make sure your communications plan includes a solid media strategy based on your goals, budget, and what you've learned during your media research.