Reporters need to be interested in the campaign and understand its message to cover it in a supportive manner. Queries from the press should be responded to quickly and accurately. Fact sheets, reports and any relevant new information should be shared with media contacts, but it is important not to divulge any information that is not intended for publication. In violence against women and girls cases in particular, it is essential to maintain the survivors’ anonymity and avoid naming the person or providing any identifying characteristics. These precautionary measures are important to maintain confidentiality and the woman’s safety.
Original, new information attracts journalists’ attention – to find out what is new or ‘newsworthy’ to the journalists targeted, it is important to get to know them and their work, specifically the ‘desks’ or areas that they cover, e.g. news, city, health, etc. Knowing which specific areas of focus are covered by which journalists helps to make it easier to approach them about your campaign issues or pitch them a story angle or interview to support your campaign. For example, a story idea about the services a new shelter provides to victims of abuse may not appeal to a news desk reporter as he/she may not consider it newsworthy, but it might appeal to a city desk reporter looking to cover stories about city-related events.
Nicole Kidman, a famous movie actress, is the spokesperson of UN Women’s “Say No – Unite to End Violence against Women” initiative, a social mobilization platform that is part of the UN Secretary General’s UNite to End Violence Against Women global campaign. Her celebrity has helped capture wide attention from the media, and the public-at-large. Using a celebrity spokesperson can be an effective way to attract media coverage and bring a message across to an audience that would not pro-actively be interested in or seek information on VAW.
See the video.
Visit the Say No-UNiTE video channel.
Issues to note when dealing with journalists:
The Global Aids Alliance offers the following advice on generating earned media (adapted):First, research the media in your area, becoming familiar with all the news outlets (TV, radio, print, and online). Once you have become acquainted with the news outlets, focus on specific reporters and editors. Pay attention to what topics each one covers (known as a “beat”), and familiarize yourself with their beats. Create a database or list of media outlets and key contacts that you can refer to. Always be sure you are approaching the right reporter.
Other key things to note when you are compiling your media database are:
Your relationship with your local press can greatly impact the level of coverage you get, so:
Introduce yourself. Schedule a time with a reporter to introduce yourself and your cause. Keep the meeting brief and to the point. Be prepared to answer questions they may have for you.
Leave materials. Prepare a press kit (find guidance in the section on press kits), so the reporter will have all the materials s/he will need to write a compelling story. Keep it brief and clear, and highlight the main points so that the journalist can easily use your materials.
“Spin” your issue appropriately. You may need to alter your approach to each journalist according to his or her particular beat or the type of publication. One media outlet may be interested in the story from a “hard news” perspective, or the newsworthiness of a particular event, while another may be more interested in a political, science, or human interest angle.
Be friendly with reporters but remember who they are. No matter what anyone says there is no such thing as "off-the-record." Always stick to your message, stay consistent and do not be swayed.