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How to Make It Happen
Types of Media
Where's the best place to tell your story

Decide which outlets are the best medium in which to tell your story:

Television - Does your story have a great visual? Can it easily be boiled down in very short sound-bites? Do you have great spokespeople who can respond easily and quickly to questions? For television news programs (local programs or nationals such as 20/20 or Dateline) - is there a victim in this story? What is the human or consumer angle, or the appeal to the average person? You may also want to provide existing footage (called b-roll) and have spokespeople available to be interviewed.

Example: A press conference to release a report on potholes on urban highways. This has great television appeal: it is highly visual, can easily be tailored for local media (through city rankings), has a consumer or human interest slant, is a story that is easily told usually. This is a great report detailing the terrible shape of urban highways in the US, and points to the money that is being spent on new road building instead of fixing existing roads. What does the organization that publishes the report really want? Fewer new roads and decreased urban sprawl. This is a great example of telling a 'popular' story to get at a slighter less popular message.

Note on B-Roll - You may also want to provide existing footage - called b-roll - and have a spokesperson available to be interviewed. B-roll is simply a video tape of a particular scene or event that pertains to your issue. It is usually used as "background" footage for a TV reporter, who will usually insert his/her own reporting as a voice over. B-roll video must be in Beta format and must consist of short clips of the most interesting footage. The entire video shouldn't be more than 2 minutes of short (30 seconds or less) clips. There should be no emphasis on narration since most television producers use b-roll as a backdrop for their own story. It should emphasize specific and quick 'action' or movement since b-Roll does not tell a story on its own. Put simply, b-roll should illustrate the point you want to make.

Radio - Do your spokespeople feel comfortable fielding questions from reporters or being taped for quotes that may be placed in a story? Radio stations and programs both locally and nationally operate much like television stations.

Three Main Radio Formats: call-in, news feed, and public service announcements.

Call-in shows have one or more guests with a host to discuss an issue and include time toward the end of the show for listeners to call in. With these types of programs, it is important for guests to be prepared to answer a wide range of questions.

News feeds are written by staff or fed from a network. Many times the local station will bolster the story with quotes from appropriate spokespeople.

PSAs are announcements made "in the public interest." These cannot technically be politically partisan or even advocate strongly for any position. They are meant to educate or announce community events. Call the station prior to making a PSA and find out their format requirements (length of piece, 'paid for by' requirements, etc.) and the lead time for submitting (often several weeks before the event).

Example: A good example of whento set-up regional radio interviews is during a promotion for a book that has particular 'regional' or city interest. A book offering a series of stories on individuals who are doing interesting things on environmental issues, or environmental businesses in different areas of the U.S., may have regional, or general environmental appeal.

Wire Services or Newswires - Newswires such as the Associated Press or United Press International are usually geared toward breaking news - such as a lawsuit or startling new report. You can dig around to find a reporter with a beat applicable to your issue, who may write a more indepth piece. For example, Associated Press has an "environment" reporter who is not always tied to breaking news. They are great for organizations with a really hot story, but which may be on a tight budget, since stories from these services may end up getting picked up by papers across the country.

General wire outlets are not for long-lead stories, and may not always be appropriate for 'technical' or complicated stories. There are, however, more specialized outlets such as Dow Jones (covering more business-related issues), or Inter Press (covering an array of environment, social, and international issues). Several outlets such as Associated Press have specialized reporters to cover Agriculture, and other 'specialty' issues.

There are also 'paid-for' newswires such as PR Newswire. These companies will, for a fee, send out a release to a specific list (this is not considered journalism, but is another form of PR). Others, like Environmental News Service (ENS) - are paid-for but also have reporters on staff.

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