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Media Relations 101

Media Relations 101: Basic Media Relations Strategies

Are you trying to increase awareness of your prevention program in your community? Are you unsure how and when you should contact a reporter? Are you worried about what to do when a reporter calls? Then you are in the right place.

This section is designed to give VFHY grantees an overview of media relations strategies that may help generate awareness of your programs and initiatives. This is not a comprehensive discussion or explanation on media relations. There are college majors, Web sites and books dedicated to the topic. However, this is a basic overview of some simple tactics that anyone can use to increase awareness of their program.

If there are any questions about this topic, contact Richard Foster, VFHY public affairs manager, at (804) 225-3947.

What Is Media Relations?

Media relations is the act of working with media outlets using a variety of vehicles (such as press releases, media alerts, and letters to the editor) to generate coverage about a company, organization, product, service, etc. Media relations is an integral part of a greater discipline called Public Relations, which is the management function that establishes and maintains relationships between an organization and its "public." Members of the public vary depending on the organization, and can include media, employees, community members, government officials, board members, administrations, etc.

Why Is Media Relations Important?

Getting your local newspaper, television station, radio station or even an influential blogger to cover a story about your organization and your program is one of the best ways to educate your community about the great job you are doing as a VFHY grantees. Take a step back and look at what you have done. You learned about a funding opportunity offered by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to implement a prevention program in your community. You then took a lot of time and effort and put together a proposal telling VFHY why you would be a good investment in helping VFHY achieve its mission of reducing youth tobacco use or childhood obesity. After a competitive review by a Regional Advisory Board and then by the VFHY Board of Trustees Program Committee, you were issued a grant which is bringing dollars in to your community that will help keep your local kids healthy and living longer, more productive lives. What better story is there than that? There's not.

Since January 2001, there have been hundreds and hundreds of articles and news broadcasts about VFHY initiatives in print, radio, and television media throughout the Commonwealth. There have been ZERO negative articles about our programs. If you read a newspaper, or watch the news on television, look at all the negative stories that are out there - war, the economy, etc. People need to hear about positive things, especially positive things in their community, and that's where you come in!

VFHY Assistance

Depending on your comfort level, you may feel confident implementing these strategies on your own. If not, VFHY staff members are happy to work with you.

Editing/Writing - We will assist you in developing media alerts, press releases or any other press-related materials. From editing your work, to providing writing guidance, VFHY can help you step by step.

Outreach - We can suggest other methods of outreach, including social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, and can help you with technical assistance if necessary.

Distribution - Some grantees have media lists and distribute their alerts and releases themselves. If you do not have a media list, VFHY can provide that to you or help you develop one. In some cases, the VFHY can distribute the release for you, on your behalf.

Coordinating Interviews - Often when a release is distributed by VFHY, reporters will call VFHY to find out more about the program or event. In these cases, we are happy to coordinate an interview for you by setting up a convenient time and place for the interview.

Media Training - If you are not comfortable with being interviewed, let us know and we can help train you by providing helpful tips and hints, developing talking points, and more.