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If you want people to volunteer and to understand IVD and volunteerism for development, you have to get their attention.
You can't speak to everyone by yourself, so you may need the news media.
Here are some tactics for working with newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and TV.
See our sample news release and broadcast public service announcement too.
- What are you trying to achieve – are you trying to get people to attend an IVD event, create awareness of your organization and its aims, or simply raise awareness of the contribution of volunteerism?
- Be clear who your ultimate audience is – what groups and sectors of society do you wish to reach? You may also wish to reach stakeholders such as civic leaders or politicians too.
- The above will define your choice of media, what you say and how you say it.
- Select an outlet that works best for your situation. Choose local community newspapers or radio stations for community-level events. Periodicals and websites with a certain audience may be interested too, as long as it is relevant to them (doctors and nurses, for example, read specialist magazines). National TV and newspapers may only take interest in major or spectacular events.
- Familiarize yourself with the media and ask yourself what they think makes a good story Is your news relevant to current events and issues in your area? This will help them make a link.
- If the event is big enough, perhaps hold an introductory press conference to announce national volunteer initiatives or IVD activities and invite representatives from a range of media.
- Compile a press kit with information and images on national volunteering initiatives and distribute to journalists both in advance of and during IVD events.
- Try to identify the journalists who have reported on similar human interest issues before, and contact them directly.
- How exclusive is this story? Journalists like to be the first to know, so consider releasing your news to the key journalist first.
- Don't wait until the last minute or the day before – give journalists time to prepare. Send in your news release a week or two early, and follow it up with a phone call a day or two later to explain further and catch their interest.
- Use our sample news release and broadcast public service announcement as a guide for drafting.
- Get to the point quickly – whether in a news release or a telephone call, you may have just seconds to capture the interest of a very busy journalist.
- All journalists are interested in the following things – who, where, when, what, why and how. Help them answer these questions, and be ready with background information (your press kit should also cover these points).
- Have an angle – why is this event unique, the biggest, the best, the most spectacular, the most important? Identify the event's 'selling points' and be ready to explain them.
- Seek out local celebrities or prominent supporters from the worlds of local business or politics and arrange their participation or presence at your event. Once they have confirmed, make sure everyone knows they are coming. This is a good way to get media attention, and celebrities like to be seen doing something positive.
- Alternatively, have something especially unusual or impressive lined up, something they've never seen before…
On the day:
- Accompany journalists as they visit the events, and make sure there's something interesting going on for them to see and even get involved in. Point out things relevant to your overall theme.
- Remember that a picture can tell a thousand words, so think of good photo opportunities (or lively background activities for radio) you can bring them to.
- Introduce journalists to interesting volunteers who can speak about IVD and volunteering in an interesting way. They could be the oldest, the youngest, the longest-serving etc. or simply the most enthusiastic or best talkers. This helps the journalist add 'human value' to the story and fill it with quotes.
- Perhaps hold a press conference where notable people can talk about their positive experiences as volunteers or supporting volunteerism.