Do It For The People....
Media is a platform that many use to share pictures, ideas, and opinions. Many people use media to connect with others and to stay in touch with family members and friends. Media includes different ways of communication (ex. t.v., applications, internet, radio, magazines, newspapers and printed materials) used to reach the general public, or a particular community. Media advocacy is the use of media to promote an organization's specific goal or objective. Media advocates are individuals who use media to attract exposure for organizations and shed light on causes. If you're trying to reach the largest audience possible in the least amount of time, becoming a media advocate is probably the best way to do it.
Media advocates use media for the following reasons...
To Inform - educate the public on community health issues
To Re-Frame Problems - shift the community's perspective on critical public health issues
To Motivate - encourage community members to become involved in change efforts
To Re-Gain Control - increase community power by strengthening resident voices in the media
To Persuade - convince the media to cover stories told by community members to contribute to community-based solutions
Such are some examples in which media advocates use media as a tool to achieve community change.
So what does it take to work with the media?
Honestly, it all depends on two things: 1) how you already work with the media and 2) what you aim to accomplish through the media.
Identifying these can set you up for success, since you do not want to compromise existing relationships (if they exist for you) and you want to identify your goal because it can help you become an organized media advocate. The thing is that working with the media can get tricky, especially if you are asked to do something that doesn't help or isn't appropriate for your group/organization. Establishing personal relationships with individuals in media outlets is key, as you can gain a go-to person when you reach out to that media source.
When working with the media please keep in mind...
Availability - be available when they contact you. Make sure to get back to them in a timely fashion if you are not able to respond immediately.
Trustworthy - never lie to the media. If you are not able to answer truthfully, simply do not comment.
Factual - you want your statements to be a reflection of pure facts. If you quote someone or offer a statistic, make sure that it's from a reliable source and that it strengthens your position. If the media senses that you are a reliable source for accurate information, they'll turn to you.
Communication - communicate to the media when stories that relate to your issue become available. These might include personal stories, announcements about awards/funding for your group/organization, informational sessions about the issue, or local events in the community.
Respect - always be respectful and remember that you are representing your cause and other members of your group.
When using the media to advance a policy, remember that media can be used to apply pressure to policy makers. Advocates can create media that informs and motivates policy makers to take action.
The following are important goals for your group if you are trying to advance a policy:
Confirm that policy makers are aware of the issue
Ensure that policy makers understand how the issue implicates them and their constituents
Know that media alone will not bring policy change; it needs to be combined with other forms of advocacy tactics (feel free to explore "use your voice" page for pointers). Opinion Editorials (op-eds) are great to pair with other media. Op-eds are written pieces published by a newspaper or magazine that express the opinion of an individual who is not affiliated with the publication's editorial board. If you would like to explore how op-eds can strengthen your media advocacy campaign, please check out the resource below:
Lastly, change does not happen overnight - this process takes time! Even if policy makers/legislators have already heard your messages, change can take a while. Keep applying pressure and remain patient...don't loose sight of your goal.