Types of Media Outlets and How to Reach Them
If you’ve prepared your media materials, you’re ready to reach out to reporters and the news media. This section provides quick tips and information to help you reach out to media contacts about chemistry.
Types of Media Outlets
If you have an idea for a great news item that features chemistry, you have many potential media outlets to consider. Newspapers, shopping guides, magazines, blogs, employer newsletters, news stations, and radio are just some of the outlets available to you. You may also want to consider sending your materials to elected officials. You’ll want to create a media list – a list of contacts at the various media outlets in your community.
Creating a Media List
In creating a media list, you’ll want to identify the right person at each outlet to send your materials. Relying on established public relations channels, such as your university’s or employer’s PR department, may be the most effective way to get a reporter’s attention. If that’s not an option, contact each outlet and ask who handles science, education, business or community news, depending upon your activity. When you call, ask about the reporter’s schedule and deadlines – with this information, you’ll be able to place the information in their hands at the right time to make the next edition.
A good media list should be updated regularly, both before you’ve reached out to reporters and as you contact them and learn information about what types of stories they like and how they prefer to be contacted. Keep notes about your contacts – it will help you get your message across the next time you have news to share.
Interacting with Media Contacts
If you want to suggest a story about an important chemical finding, a local chemistry event, or another story to a reporter, keep in mind the following advice:
- Be prepared to say something you want to communicate about the local section, chemists or chemistry.
- Identify yourself and why you are calling. Journalists talk to many people a day, so be clear about why they should care about your story.
- Send news they can use. Be sure you can answer the question, “Why will they want to know this?” Be prepared to ‘sell’ your story.
- Be clear and concise whenever contacting reporters. The thing reporters lack most is time – they’re deluged with hundreds of news stories every day, all on a tight deadline.
- Different media have different lead times. The only way to know about a media outlet’s deadlines is to gather this information in your early contacts with the media and keep it on file.
- Double-check everything you send to the media for clarity and accuracy. If you provide information that contains errors or ambiguities, reporters will soon learn to ignore you.
- Send thank you notes, even if they chose not to cover your event or story idea.
- It is each member’s responsibility to ensure that their employers do not have policies that prohibit them from talking to reporters.
For more information about reaching out to the media, review the American Chemical Society PR Guidebook or contact the ACS Office of Public Affairs (1-800-227-5558, extension 4400).
Do you have questions or advice on creating media lists or being a media contact?
Media Relations Spotlight – Pensacola Section
Local Section meetings, high school awards and speakers – the Pensacola Section of the ACS routinely gets its announcements in the press and reaches its members and community. How do they do it?
- They keep and maintain a well-conceived contact list that includes their members, local media contacts, and local and national elected officials.
- They stay in regular contact with these people by sending newsletters and media announcements a few times a year.
- They broaden their contacts every few years by calling the media outlets and asking for updated contact information.
- They know how to market their news – teacher and student awards are more likely to get covered by television stations, while lectures and meetings will be covered in their papers’ “upcoming events” section.
From Allan Ford, Pensacola Section Member