Using media in lobbying.

Ten points for building supportive media exposure to your ideas

  1. 1.

    Be realistic. Recognise the inherent risks and opportunities involved in encouraging media interest.

  2. 2.

    Know yourself. Keep asking yourself "What is special about the message I have to give?"

  3. 3.

    Know your audience. Who do you want to communicate with and what is the best format? Traditional media and social media will reach different audiences.

  4. 4.

    Pause if possible. If you get a cold-call from the media asking you to comment on something, do everything to avoid responding then and there. Offer to call back in a few minutes, end the call, write out what you want to say and phone back. Similarly, if you want to respond to a tweet, Instagram or other social media exchange, take a moment to evaluate your message (test on a trusted friend or colleague).

  5. 5.

    Appearance counts. For example, a press release should be: one side, 1 ½ space; Ariel lettering style; Use a first sentence that summarises the whole message in 25 words or less; Then factual explanation of the news item and a quote, Then your contact details, preferably a cell-phone. When using social media use your hashtags #; Make links to related conversations; and find some relevant images to use.

  6. 6.

    Be alert. If the media responds to a press release or social media post you have made, get back to them fast. They work to tight deadlines. They are generally doing you more of a favour than you are doing them.

  7. 7.

    'Off the record?" Before saying anything which might come back to harm you but you feel you must say, establish that you have “off the record” status and avoid saying anything that only you could possibly have known or thought. If radio phone, make sure that you are not in a car.

  8. 8.

    Know your limits. Don’t try and control what the journalist might produce; don’t insist at approving something before it is published. If they offer that, fine.

  9. 9.

    Don't despair. When a negative story about you is run on every news broadcast, remember that there is much truth in the assertion that “all publicity is good publicity”.

  10. 10.

    Your target. A media release etc. which is repeated word for word, prominently, in the media which you have targeted is a bullseye hit!

Adapted from material provided by Tim Barnett MP, 2002