Media Relations Tips

Customize your press release: Using the provided template, plug in your local details. Be sure to highlight any newsworthy items—did your meeting result in concrete action? Has a local official weighed in?

Research and identify your targets: Which publications and reporters in your area are most likely to cover this story? Before reaching out, it’s crucial to understand the kinds of topics your targets cover and how they cover them. Read, watch, and listen to make sure you’re pitching the right people.

  • Tip: Think hyperlocal. A community channel is more likely to cover your meeting than a major metropolitan newspaper, program, or website. A community news network like Patch could be a good place to start.

Pitch your story: If you’ve identified a specific reporter or writer you’d like to contact, email them directly. You can usually find contact info in staff bios on outlet websites, under bylines, and/or on public social media accounts.

Not sure whom to contact? Most publications’ websites will have a “Contact Us” option, usually in the “About Section.” If there’s an email address or a form to submit tips, try that.

To avoid getting stuck in a spam filter, do not include a file attachment in your initial email. Instead, paste the press release text into the body of the email.

  • Tip: Include a personal note to add interest and context.
    Example: “Hi [name] – I really enjoyed your recent column on a local cancer charity, and I thought you might be interested in learning about another effort to end cancer in our community. As an advocate with the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), I’m spending Congress’s August recess encouraging [our rep] to support NBCC’s priorities… [add any other relevant details] … Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more. My contact details are below. Thank you!”

Follow up: If you haven’t heard back within a week, it’s okay to follow up. Reporters get a lot of emails!

In your email client, go to your sent folder, find the original email, and forward it to the recipient with a note acknowledging that they’re probably very busy, but that you wanted to make sure they saw this. You can also ask if someone else at their outlet is better suited for the content. Thank them again, and if you don’t hear back, assume they’re not interested at this time. But unless they tell you otherwise, you can reach out again in the future with a new story or press release.

  • Tip: Most reporters do not want to be contacted via phone, but if they are active on public social media, you can try to connect with them there.

Questions? Contact Nicole.