Contact local media
Getting news of your event or project into the press helps spread the word about your own endeavours as well as providing valuable evidence on the benefits of community activism. It will hopefully inspire and encourage others in your local area to get involved and or set up their own projects too.
When should I contact my local newspaper/radio station?
If you're organising an event, give local radio stations and newspapers plenty of notice so they have enough time to plan the story. Invite them to come along and take part.
Different media outlets have different lead times (how far in advance of publication they need information and stories). These do vary so it is worth calling around to double check. But as a general rule:
- Monthly publications usually work three to four months ahead
- Weekly publications usually work four to six weeks ahead
- Daily newspapers and radio stations usually start planning about a week ahead
- Online publications are instant, but it’s still worth flagging up your event in advance so they can plan content
Who should I ask for when I contact them?
If you call through to the main switchboard (numbers should be listed on their websites) and ask to speak to the relevant desk, the operator should be able to put you through to the correct person.
- If you just want to discuss your project or event and why the local community should take part, then ask to speak to the News Desk
- If you have an interesting story about past projects or events that you have hosted, something special that you have in mind for this year, or examples of how you've helped your community, then ask to speak to the Features Desk
- A picture paints a thousand words so, if you have some great photographs you want to share, then contact the Picture Desk
Journalists and editors always have their readers in mind when writing a story. Always consider how what you are saying will sound to the readers and listeners. Journalists are very busy so the more interesting and targeted you can make your story, the better.
Media UK: a free database of the UK print and broadcast media. It’s very easy to use, just search your town.
Journalisted: a very useful index of who has written what recently. You can see if certain journalists might be interested in your story before you call.
BBC: the whole of the UK is covered by BBC local radio so it is easy to find the area that is most relevant to you. Have a look at the weekly schedule and work out what segment would be most appropriate for your story before you phone through to the switchboard.
Community Radio: an extremely influential outlet for communities with a wide audience and reporters are always looking for strong local stories. Wikipedia has a great list of radio stations for each region that you can contact.