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Americans United: Student Affiliates

Supporting church-state separation from campus.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Media Relations

The media can be an important ally in getting your message out. Today, the media can include everything from television and radio stations to online journalists working for blogging sites. Here are some useful ideas you might want to consider if you need to reach out to the media.

Identify Sympathetic Journalists

Reporters and news departments are inundated with dozens of press releases daily. The easier you can make their job, the more likely they will cover your story. Be considerate of their deadlines when you are ready to give them a call.

Help Journalists Write About Your Issue

You should present a compelling idea with a human focus that is timely. Remember that the easier it is to write a story about your issue, the more likely the issue will be covered.

Link Your Story to Other News Events

Your actions will stand a better chance of getting covered if they tie into other events in the news: government announcements, holidays, local conferences.

Issue News/Press Releases (see detail page → )

The release should be one to two pages double-spaced and include a strong newspaper style headline that will interest an editor who has to shuffle through hundreds of news releases every day. The first sentence of the copy should contain the most important fact in your story and the rest should cover who, what, where, when and why. For big events send out a news release seven days prior, and then telephone a reminder one to two days before the event.

TV! TV! TV!

Television coverage is difficult to get, but it can be very effective in getting your message out. To get television coverage you need to stage an event that not only informs, but has a visual element. Try to schedule actions on dull news days, allowing enough time to process material for the 6 o’clock news. Choose an effective spokesperson. If you are interviewed, you will have only about 5 to 10 seconds to make a statement. Practice what you want to say before the event and stay on message.

Letters to the Editor (see detail page → )

Small papers will publish any reasonable letter that does not require a lot of fact checking. Elected officials pay attention to the media in their states/districts. Constituents who get published can reiterate their point by mailing a copy of their letter to the editor to their elected official.