Organising an event to attract the media
Before starting any media relations initiative, you should have the following in place:
Compile Press Lists
Compile a list of names and contact details of media you could approach: local papers, radio stations, trade publications, local TV news programmes. Newspapers and trade publications usually have a news editor and a features editor. Radio and TV stations will usually have a relevant news desk. To find out the best contact, simply phone the relevant media and ask who deals with schools and education news.
Get To Know Your Media Contacts
Once you have found out who your key contacts are, get to know them if you can. Find out what their news interests are in relation to schools and their copy deadlines. The best way to do this is to call them (but remember not to call them during the period just before their printing deadline! For morning dailies, this is late afternoon, for evening dailies, this is late morning and weeklies are usually preoccupied on Mondays and Tuesday mornings). If you have time or can delegate it to someone, it may also be useful to build up a cuttings file of articles they have written so you can fit your story to their style and interests.
When you have established contact, consider inviting them to visit your school, especially when you have a story that you think they might be interested in. Putting a name to a face will benefit both of you.
Select a Spokesperson
Be pro-active and consider appointing a spokesperson. Choose a spokesperson who is confident, relaxed and articulate and who will create a favourable image of the school. If your news is about Count On events and initiatives make sure they are well informed.
Try to keep the same spokesperson/s for a particular issue. Limiting the number of people you put forward to the media allows you to maintain consistency on the messages you put out - if you use 5 different spokespeople, the chances are they will give 5 different interpretations of what is going on in your school for Count On.
It may be that the most appropriate person to deal with is the Headteacher or the Chair of Governors, especially in relation to matters such as finance or pastoral care, but there is no reason why a Maths Co-ordinator or Maths Governor should not deal with news stories relating to Count On.
Also, once a journalist gets used to dealing with the same person over a period of time, the chances are they will start calling direct for a comment about a particular story or a follow-on story.
Remember to tell all the staff who the spokesperson is for Count On and other issues!