Media relations primer for nonprofits & community groups
Media Relations Summer Camp
June 25 & 27 at The Hamilton Spectator
Why we’re here
To help you:
• Pitch better stories to the media
• Get more media coverage
• Move the yardsticks on your
What we’ll do
• Media relations 101
• Polish, practice & then pitch a story idea
• Plus primers on:
– Writing letters to the editor & op-eds
– Getting in front of the camera
– Getting onto social media
And you’re making Hamilton
an even better place to call home.
"People are not very interested in talks
Ideas & stories fascinate us;
organizations bore us.”
"Don't boast about your company; rather,
tell us about the problem you're solving."
-- Chris Anderson
The very first question
you will always be asked.
Why should I care?
Why should our readers care?
Why should our viewers care?
Why should our listeners care?
And why now?
How is this timely?
The better your
answers, the stronger
your news hook.
Make it newsworthy
• Are you doing something new? Innovative?
• First in our community? First anywhere?
• Are you the best at what you’re doing?
• Informative / interesting / entertaining?
• Story has yet to be told?
3 ways to get tell better stories and get
more & better media coverage
Find your poster child
• Who can be the face & heart of your
organization for this story?
• One person with a compelling story –
a life transformed because of you
• Someone we can relate to and root for
• Enlist, don’t conscript
• Authentic, not rehearsed
Donor or funder
Grads make Notre Dame House proud
By Molly Hayes (Hamilton Spectator, June 20 2013)
Caroline Kankowsi cried as she received her diploma Wednesday.
At 20 years old, she never thought she'd make it through high school. As a teen, she
struggled with anxiety and depression, had family problems and ended up living on her own,
moving five times in two years. Eventually, she found herself at the Good Shepherd Notre
Dame House School, where they pushed her to graduate.
"They keep you on track completely. They make you feel like you can do anything," she said.
She and five fellow grads were awarded their high school diplomas at the "accomplishment
ceremony" Wednesday, in the gussied-up back lot of Notre Dame House on Cannon Street
West. Another 14 students received certificates for their work in the program on the path
toward graduation. Kankowski has been accepted to Mohawk College's photography
program, thanks to her arts studies at Notre Dame House.
The house — also a 24-hour youth shelter — has 24 students enrolled in its education
program this year.
"The support they get here is amazing," Kankowski's father, Paul, said at the ceremony. After
a tough road with family in her teen years, she had 10 relatives come out to support her.
"There are all kinds of routes you can take in life … hers was a little harder, but she worked
hard and made this a very special day for our whole family," her father said. "I cried
through the whole thing."
Pitch your poster child
• Tell your poster child’s story in
• Link to the program, project, event or
announcement you want to profile
• Add a spokesperson for your organization
• 1 sentence boilerplate about your organization
• Contact info
Pitch to the right one reporter
Or editor / producer
Coverage in one media outlet
can lead to coverage in others
line is your
Make it clear,
compelling.Max. of 7-8 short sentences in
the body of your email.
Get to the point.
End with contact info
(work & cell #s, weekend #)
Should take 30 seconds or less to read.
SAMPLE EMAIL PITCH TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
From: Robb, Jay [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 10:01 AM
To: Ammerata, Carla
Subject: Mohawk prof wins national honours
Carla – thanks for the Senator Braley coverage last week.
One of my favourite people at Mohawk has won a national teaching award – Peter Olynyk does a ton of great work
in the community and here at the college. I’m trying to get him cloned.
Mohawk College is home to one of the country’s top professors for the second consecutive year. Peter Olynyk has
received the 2013 bronze teaching award of excellence from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. A
professor in Civil and Structural Engineering in Mohawk’s School of Engineering Technology for the past 27 years,
Peter was recognized for his excellence in the classroom and leadership on key projects, including the Bay Area
Science and Engineering Fair, Meet the Grad Night and the Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Competition. Peter co-
founded the competition 26 years ago and continues to run the event for high school and college students. Peter
launched Meet the Grad nights with a case of beer, a couple boxes of pizza and one grad brought in to reassure
students heading into their final exams. Peter, who teaches more than 400 students a year, consistently
earns top marks in student evaluations.
This marks the second year in a row that Mohawk professors have received national awards. Last year, Mohawk
Advertising professor Jef Petrossi also won a bronze teaching award of excellence from the Association of Canadian
Peter Olynyk, 905.575.1212 ext. 3186, email@example.com
VP Academic Cheryl Jensen, 905.575.1212 ext. 2224, firstname.lastname@example.org
HAMILTON SPECTATOR June 11, 2013 (A3)
Signpost: Mohawk prof is tops
Mohawk College is home to one of the country's top professors for
the second consecutive year. Peter Olynyk has received the 2013
bronze teaching award of excellence from the Association of
Canadian Community Colleges. A professor in civil and structural
engineering in Mohawk's School of Engineering Technology,
Olynyk was recognized for his excellence in the classroom and
leadership on key projects, including the Bay Area science fair.
• Poster child + spokesperson lined up
• Available for interviews any time
• Complete contact info
• 2-3 supporting facts & stats
• Highlight potential places for interviews,
photos and video
Make it as easy as possible for the
reporter to tell your story
Reporters are always looking for experts to help:
• Localize stories
• Provide comment, analysis and background
• Simplify complexity
• Add colour with great quotes
2. Be a resident expert
Credible, reliable & trustworthy…passionate…
knowledgeable…enjoy working with the
media…speak in soundbites…24/7 availability
More ways to raise your profile
• Stand and deliver: give
speeches & talk on panels
• Submit letters to the editor
• Win awards
• Follow up with reporters when
they file stories that are in your
Inject your idea and parachute your
organization into breaking news
Add to the narrative with a
new dimension / perspective
• Monitor the media
• Need to be fast – respond in real time
• Post on social media (reporters will be there
doing keyword searches)
• Contact reporter directly
• Use your judgment – always in good taste
and never opportunistic
Pester the reporter.
Pitch & vanish.
Promise what you can’t deliver.
Ask to review & approve the story.
Ask the reporter to send you a
copy of the story.
5 cardinal sins of media relations