CLCs use the media in a number of ways: to promote the centre and its services, to educate and inform the community, to draw attention to an unjust situation, and to advocate for change.
The following resources should help you use the media effectively.
We will add to the resources on this page over time. If you know of public resources we could add, please contact the CLCNSW Advocacy and Human Rights Officer (click here for email).
Comprehensive media guides
The Illawarra Forum’s website has a guide: How to Work with the Media, created by Creative Commons.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship publishes Publicity Guide: How to promote your community relations project through the media.
The American NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court has produced a resource called NGO Media Outreach: Using the Media as an Advocacy Tool (Sept 2003).
This guide covers the following topics:
Harnessing the Power of the Media
- The Importance of the Media to the Work of NGOs
- How to Establish Media Contacts
Planning a Successful Media Outreach Campaign
- Identify Your Media Outreach Strategy & Goals
- Creating a Core Message
- Framing your Message
- Timing your Message
Delivering Your Campaign to the Media
- The Press Release / Media Advisory / Press Statement
- The Interview
- The Press Conference
- Broadcast Media – Radio and Television
The publication Suicide and Mental Illness in the Media produced by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health was created for mental health workers but it provides general information on interacting with the media which is useful for community organisations.
When and How to use the media
Our Community has Help Sheets on the following areas
- Advocacy and Media
- Building a Media Team (different roles)
- Building Media into all your Activities
- Knowing When What you do is News
- Generating Interest in Your Activities
- The Importance of Pictures
- Attracting Coverage in Your Local Area
- Top tips for Getting your Media Strategy up and Running
- Tips on Getting Free Exposure for Your Event
It is important to remember that there are a variety of media targets, suitable for different issues. Don’t forget local media, or specialist publications.
Media stories are driven by conflict and your local media is likely to be interested in any national issue with potential for local impact. This is especially true of the impact on the average human ‘person on the street’ is clearly identifiable. When dealing with local media, being able to identify the local angle and impact is critical, which is why highlighting case studies is a good place to start.
There is an interesting article on raising awareness about domestic violence in the media, written by Megan Hughes, in Newsletter 41 of the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearing House - Accessible here.
A few tips on getting out a good media release:
1) Always precede a press release with a telephone call to say it's coming.
2) The impact must be at the very beginning.
3) Use plain English, avoid acronyms.
4) Finish with a contact name with work and home numbers.
5) The earlier in the week the better/ the earlier in the day the better.
Our Community has Help Sheets on the following areas:
If NSW CLCs wish to send a media release through the NACLC AAPMediaNet service, please contact the CLCNSW state office.
Letters to the Editor
The following Help Sheet is produced by Our Community:
Be Careful What You Say…
Be aware of the law in relation to defamation, sedition, contempt of court (including sub judice), and privacy. A few sources of information are:
A toolkit, Speaking Wisely, is produced by Redfern Legal Centre. It is available from their Publications Page.
The Environmental Defenders Office produce a factsheet on Speaking out in Public, which deals with defamation.
The Law Handbook (12th Edition); 2012; Australia - This text contains a chapter called Media Law, with information on defamation. This chapter is available to purchase online.
Once you have identified “the story”, you will need to alert the media to your story.
The Our Community website has a list of media outlets (Newspaper, TV and Radio) for each state - accessible here.
If you are short for time, you may want to send your media release to the Newswires. These are organisations that supply news reports to news organizations (Radio, Print and TV):
Dow Jones - Sydney
02 9235 2950
Bloomberg - Sydney
02 9777 8601
Reuters - Sydney
02 9373 1800
AAP – Sydney
02 9322 8000
02 9322 8679
Also keep in mind the value of contacting specialist media outlets, and specific journalists with an interest in the topic (search for journalists who have previously written about your topic and contact them).
Our Community also has Help Sheets on the following areas:
- How the Newsroom Works
- What the Media are Looking for
- Pinpoint the Right Person in the Media Organisation
- Creating a Media Contact Book
- Using Your Media Contact Book
Being interviewed by the media
Familiarise yourself with the paper/radio/TV show you are going to talk to and think about who their audience is. Tailor your interview to their audience. Make a note of how long their interviews usually go for, and of how many words usually get quoted in their stories.
The following Help sheets from Our community will assist if you are contacted for comment / interview by the media, whether for radio, TV, or print.
- Becoming an Opinion Leader (how to get the media to contact you for your opinion)
- Preparing for an Interview
- Why Sound Bites are Important
- Creating a Tasty Sound Bite
- Developing a "Lift Speech"
- Conducting a Successful Interview
- After the Interview
- Ensuring you get your Message Across
Using online media
Some useful links are:
- The Social Media Guide.
- Using social media to promote social justice – Information written by Trevor Cook for the Youth Action and Policy Association NSW (YAPA)
- PolicyLink - Internet Advocacy.
- MobileActive.org - how to use mobile phones for activism
- PetitionOnline.com - provides free online hosting of public petitions for responsible public advocacy
An example of a Community Legal Centre using a blog is the Tenants’ Union’s Brown Couch blog: http://tunswblog.blogspot.com/
Inviting the media to an event
Our Community has Help Sheets on the following areas:
- When Should you Invite the Media?
- What to Keep in Mind when Inviting the Media
- Holding a Press Conference or Media Event - Part 1
- Holding a Press Conference or Media Event - Part 2
Developing a media relations policy
Your organisation may benefit from a media relations policy. Our Community have provided an example / template to get you started:
Example Media Relations Policy
When things go wrong
- Managing a Media Crisis (An Our Community Helpsheet)
Training on media skills
As well as internal training opportunities offered to CLCs at the Quarterlies, training opportunities to increase your media skills include:
Media Skills Training – Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). This is an intensive one-day workshop on media skills training, run by experienced journalists, Lynette Simons and Don Palmer.
A series of 3 workshops on Law Reform and Policy skills were held at the National Conference of CLCs in October 2010.
Click here for the notes from the workshop on Media (for the other 2 workshops, please see the main Law Reform page).
Further resources (not available online)
1. Dealing with the Media; Chris Rau; 2010; Australia
2. The Law Handbook (11th Edition); 2009; Australia
* this text contains a chapter called Media Law, with information on the interaction of the media and the law and is available online. Available for purchase at: http://www.thomsonreuters.com.au/catalogue/ProductDetails.asp?id=10701
3. Media Training 101: A Guide to Meeting the Press; Sally Stewart; 2003; USA
4. Media relations handbook for agencies, associations, nonprofits, and Congress; Bradford Fitch & Mike McCurry; 1998; USA
5. Courts, counselors & correspondents: a media relation’s analysis of the legal system, Richard A. Stack; 1998; USA