How To: Engage Media Ambassadors

In this guide, Afef Ben Ghenia, Ambassadeurs de la Securite Routiere, shares her expertise on engaging media as ambassadors for your campaign.

“We need to involve journalists and communicators. They inform citizens but they also ensure that our voices will be listened by decision makers and encourage those decision makers to act. Journalists play a big role and politicians pay attention to what they say. We need journalists as our allies and supporters.”

1. Grow contacts

  • Do your research: which publications and which journalists might be interested in your stories?
  • Pick up the phone: get telephone numbers for journalists and call them. Explain who you are and what your organization does. Explain why they might be interested in your work.
  • Build a list of journalists and their contact details: from now on you can send them press releases, invite them to events or fields visits, and contact them when you have interesting information.

2. Maintain relationships

You need journalists, and they need you: you need them to broadcast your stories and advocate by your side and they need reliable information sources.

  • Keep in contact and establish a relation of mutual respect, confidence, and cooperation.
  • Reserve for them a cordial reception when they visit you.
  • Give them information in form and language style that they need.
  • Respect their timetables: many journalists work to strict priorities and deadlines.
  • Be available: journalists could call you at any time for comment.
  • When a major event happens, offer your expert advice to help media to produce better content.
  • When a journalist publishes or broadcasts your stories, thank them and do not reproach them for errors minor.
  • Send greetings cards or messages during holiday seasons.

3. Make your stories interesting

When you have a story or campaign to share, make sure that your contributions include at least two or three of the following elements:

  • New information: already-known facts are not news any more
  • Be relevant: link your topic with a current event
  • Demonstrate why your topic is important
  • Human interest stories about real people interest the public more than statistics: show how your topic concerns a real person, or tell it from the point of view of that person

4. Share your stories

  • Think carefully about what you send journalists and how often. Stick to the strong stories. Avoid flooding media with items that don’t interest them or are too technical and which they will not use.
  • Consider the best way to share your stories: press releases, press conferences, media packs, and direct contact can all be used to alert media, but choose wisely. These methods are most likely to succeed if you already have a good relationship with the journalists you are contacting. Out-of-the-blue press releases and press conferences may be overlooked if journalists don’t already know and trust you.