European Project for web-assisted Environmental Education
  freeyourriver Get active! Action Kit Collaboration with   The Media
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Collaboration with the Media

Introduction

Use the media to communicate your concerns! We will show you three possibilities to do so. In any case, a thorough preparation is necessary!

  1. Inform journalists and reporters about your action as they can write an article about it, put it on the radio or create a story for the TV.
  2. Write an article or a press release yourself.
  3. Publish a newsletter and/or write an article for various organizations´ newsletters that would support your cause.
  4. Develop an email list and send an email message to various oranizations who can forward it to their members.
  5. Create a website or blog with stories, pictures, and information.
Collaboration with the Press

The following rule applies: The more "catchy" and elaborate the event, the more interested the media will be.

Journalists and reporters are often under time pressure. Prepare everything carefully so that they publish waht you want them to ... otherwise, they may focus on something that you didn´t intend for them to:

  • Send invitations to various media sources (radion newspaper, internet, tv) one or two weeks in advance. In your invitation, state what is going to happen, the time of the event, and who ist involved. Also include a telephone number (where you or your media contact can be reached at any time). Contact the press again four days prior to the event to remind them of the event..
  • Offer a media package with a press release, background information and pictures, see "How to Write an Article".
  • Designate someone as the media contact/spokesperson who meets with journalists/reporters, hands out the media package, presents interview partners and tells them where to take the best pictures.
  • The following points are important for a press conference with different media: It shouldn´t last more than one hour; should be in a quiet place; have a welcoming by the leader; should be a short (!), well-prepared speech on the topic; thank them for coming to your event; offer to answer questions at any time during the event; if possible, visually illustrate your project and requests.
  • If a television station or newspaper reporter is present: Keep calm and answer in short sentences and in a friendly way. Know ahead of time what you want to say and practice it over and over again. Stay on your message, no matter what questions they ask. Have someone practice with you ahead of time. Be respectful and friendly. DON´T LIE! If you don´t know something, just state it.

If there is no media present, write your own article with pictures and submit it to the media. Smaller newspapers often do not have enough staff to visit every event. If you call the newspaper agency the chances are higher that your article will be printed. Ask when your story will be published.

Writing Articles

Before starting to wirte an article, think about what you read when you pick up some piece of media what catches your attention when you pick up a newspaper, magazine, newsletter? Think about the following points:

  • Outlets: Which magazines and newspapers do I and other people read with whom I want to communicate?
  • What catches peoples´ attention? What do I read first, what second? Why?

When writing, be aware of the way the eyes follow when reading an article: 1. Eye catching Picture, 2. Captivating Caption, 3. Catchy Headline, 4. Grabbing Lead (introductory text), 5. Text body of the article if interest has been aroused.

In order to draw the reader’s attention to your text, use good pictures (with captions)

Further tips:

  • Define the text type first. The following types can be used for a newspaper article:
    • Notice: Short information on the event
    • Report: Objective account
    • Reportage: Experiences form the author’s view
    • Interview: A person has to answer questions
    • Portrait: A person or a group of persons is presented
    • Commentary: The author’s opinion to an event
    • Letter to the editor: The reader’s opinion to an article or event
    • Press release: Always typed on the computer, not longer than one page A4 (1.5 spacing). Concisely formulate your points and requests. Quotations make the text more readable. List your website if possible.
       
  • Create longer texts and press releases according to the following structure:
    1. Title inventive and catchy – should entice the reader to want to find out more.
    2. Lead (bold print): Summary at the beginning of a text with the most important information
      ‘What? Who? When? Where? Why?’
    3. Insert subheadings into the text body and write clearly. First comes the important information, after the less important facts and details. Use the W questions (see above) to check if nothing has been missed out. Only leave out answers to these questions if they are commonly known.
    4. Pictures, drawings, diagrams, etc. always have to contain a caption.
Producing a Water Newsletter

A newsletter is – as its name suggests – a letter containing news. It is published one or more times and is distributed to interested persons that you have identified. It is a good way to make known your project and goals to announce your planned activities, and report on your successes.

Newsletter development

First, it´s best to set up an editorial team

  1. At the first editorial meeting a name for the newsletter has to be determined. Furthermore, you will have to decide who is going to cover which topics. You can find topics by brainstorming.
  2. For research (collecting information) use the internet, ask experts or institutions and read newspaper articles or technical literature on the topic.
  3. The first layout consists of keywords on the contents, on the text type and on the planned illustrations (photos, drawings, charts, diagrams).
  4. At the second editorial meeting discuss the stories in order to avoid duplication of effort and define the exact contents.
  5. Befor the third editorial meeting write draft articles, interview people and compile graphic material. Discuss the drafts at the meeting.
  6. Important: Edit the text so that it´s easy to read and catchy, (see ‘How to Write an Article’ for longer texts).Boring and poorly written text will generally be discarded!
  7. At the fourth editorial meeting define the order in which the articles will appear and draw up the layout – if possible on the computer, otherwise with scissors and glue. 
  8. At the fifth editorial meeting discuss the number of copies, the production and the distribution. Print out the newsletter, photocopy it or ask a local printing shop or other company if they would sponsor your newsletter. Advertisements or a set price per issue could also cover the expenses for the production.
  9. Distribute the newsletter by mailing them, putting them in peoples´mailboxes or have them available at various places.
  10. At the sixth editorial meeting take stock of the action. What went well? What needs need improvement?

Good luck and we hope you are successful – send a copy of your newsletter to us! Thank you!