At each stage of your community’s resilience building, one of your most valuable ‘allies’ will be the local media e.g. once you capture the interest of the local paper and are given an opportunity to write a regular ‘resilience column’ or have monthly stories published, you have the potential to influence the broader community e.g. more people filling in The Checklist, starting conversations with their neighbours and showing up at the next Town Hall Meeting.
Another positive ally your The Local Resilience Project will be the FOMO dynamic. Described as ‘the tendency to become anxious that other people might be having fulfilling experiences without you’, FOMO can operate as a positive dynamic if it directs people into more socially uplifting and connective activities. Once a critical mass are involved in resilience initiatives more people will begin to take The Local Resilience Project seriously and engage with it for fear of not being in touch with things. Having a supportive local media can be a ‘game changer’ in this respect.
In order to make the best use of local media, aim to attract people to your team willing and able to write media releases, manage events, create facebook posts and liaise with journalists.
There are numerous websites offering tips for creating successful media strategies. One site (www.fundingcentre.com.au/help/attracting-media-coverage) recommends this skill set:
- Learn how to write a media release that will attract the attention of those in a newsroom and can be turned into a story with as little effort as possible.
- Highlight the human interest element: The media is more likely to cover your story if a human interest element is involved. By offering a case study about those who would benefit from The Local Resilience Project you give the media more incentive to cover your story. It also gives the media a great photo opportunity, so use this to your advantage.
- Aim for specific journalists: Don’t send your media release to a general news desk as you run the risk of having your story overlooked. Instead, contact specific reporters to increase the chances of having your story covered.
- Be available: Make it easy for a journalist to contact you to follow up on a story e.g. provide a mobile number. Being readily available is especially useful if a journalist wants to contact you outside of your office hours (but just before their deadline).
- Build relationships : If they know you and that you return calls, provide good quotes and know your subject matter, journalists may choose your story over another, or contact you for comment more often. If possible, meet journalists face-to-face to build stronger relationships.
- Grab their attention: If the first line of your media release is boring, it’s not going to make it to the news. Journalists get flooded with media releases and if you can’t catch their attention in the first sentence your story won’t be published. So make your subject line and first sentence intriguing, exciting and engaging.
- Do your homework: Knowing the media outlet you are contacting will go a long way towards pitching a story that makes it to publication. Do your research before calling or sending through a media release. You’ll need to know what news the media outlet covers, which geographic areas it covers and who its target audience is.