What is it?
Media engagement involves working with the local, regional or national press to get coverage of your issue. Remember, the bigger the media audience, the harder it will be to get your action covered – so you might want to start local and then build up your engagement and coverage.
Your basic objective is to get your action mentioned by journalists in order to create more buzz around your issue, make your campaign more visible and reach other people who may be willing to engage with your cause.
Media engagement can also help you get the attention of policy makers.
How do you do it?
There are three keywords you need to know when engaging with the media.
Today’s news is tomorrow’s rubbish – it’s out of date the day after it’s published. To make sure your campaign receives coverage, it needs to be “salient” – so important, timely, or relevant to a bigger context. Don’t think this involves being passive and waiting for your timely moment. You can make an issues salient, by creating the “news” through another campaign action such as a flashmob or poster campaign. Make your issue salient by attracting journalists’ attention!
If your campaign is not a salient issue, can you get media engagement by being seen as a campaign with something to say about an ongoing debate or discussion? To make sure you are part of the dialogue, keep an eye on the general political context, identify windows of opportunity to be heard, and target the media by presenting yourself as an informed voice on your issue.
If you are a respected voice on an issue (because you have expertise) journalists may come to you for a comment. If you are not there yet, consider building your reputation and/or your network. Organise an event and invite some journalists, send them press releases, and send them emails commenting on their articles offering new points of view.
Why and when should you use it?
You should use media engagement as a tactic to get visibility for your issue, and potentially to attract the attention of policy makers and the general public.
To get visibility, you should wait until your issue has become very salient and your position has a lot of support.
And to get there, it is never too early to start media engagement! Just make sure your message on the issue you are campaigning on, and the change you want to see, are clear and well-articulated so people can learn about you and get involved.
Works best in combination with:
Any well executed communication strategy, along with any technique that can attract attention and curiosity.