Being a press officer means different things to different people, but at its most basic it’s your job to help your cause or organisation communicate what you are doing for the world. You might be part of a communications team, or the only press officer in your organisation – or maybe you aren’t even being paid to do the press work. Whatever your exact role, you are reading this guide because you want to better understand how to get media coverage for a cause you care about.
It’s not always easy doing press work. On one side there are colleagues and allies desperate for coverage of the issues you are working on, and on the other side are overworked journalists receiving pitches hundreds of times a day from people just like you. You’re often the bearer of bad news (‘They aren’t interested in the story’ / ‘We don’t have anyone available at that time’). You won’t always be thanked when things go well, but you’ll likely get the blame if things go wrong. And when things go wrong, they can go very wrong.
On the plus side, what you do really matters. When you get coverage, you don’t just raise public consciousness, you might inspire people to take political action, donate their money or change their behaviour. Without your work there’s a good chance that no one outside of a very small bubble would ever hear about the work being done by your organisation. You are the microphone of the movement.
What makes a good press officer
What is framing and why is it important?
What makes the news?
Media strategies / Comms strategy
What is a press release?
How to format a press release
How to send a press release
Using the phone
Building relationships with journalists
Breaking into broadcast
What do broadcasters want?
How to pitch
Freedom of information requests
Different types of broadcast
What makes a good spokesperson?
How to prepare for a broadcast interview
How to pitch and write comment pieces
Pitching to comment desks
How to deal with rejection
Regional and local media
Why pay attention to local media?
What is the media landscape regionally?
Alternative forms of media
Challenges: Hostile journalists, crises and mistakes