Contacting Your Local Media
Viva! contacts regional media regularly about campaigns. However, local media are especially interested in hearing from local people and will be much more likely to cover a story if they hear directly from you. Ask to be put through to the newsdesk for newspapers and the newsroom (immediate stories) or forward planning dept. (forthcoming events) for radio and TV. Try to establish personal contact with journalists so that you can speak directly to them in the future.
All your media will have a central newsdesk but many will also have local offices. Call them to find out contact details for your nearest office - they will be more interested in your local stories. It’s best to mail a press release in advance and then chase up by phone the day before your event/campaign launch. For TV and newspaper coverage, it’s good to emphasize the visual element of your event. If you are organizing a special photocall, it can be worth contacting the photo desk of newspapers as well as the newsdesk.
Viva! also has an up-to-date national and regional media database including fax numbers and email addresses: don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our assistance.
You should be able to find contact details of all your local media in your yellow pages.
1. Regional Daily Newspaper: All areas have a big regional daily or evening paper.
2. Regional Weekly Newspaper: This should be available at your local newsagent.
3. Free Regional Weekly Newspapers: You probably have at least one of these delivered to your home each week.
4. BBC Local Radio Station: These mostly cover a whole county. BBC radio stations tend to include more news and chat items than independent stations.
5. Independent Radio Station: Typically include shorter news items but are still interested in covering local events.
6. BBC Local TV Station: Send information to the newsroom and look out for specific local news programmes that you can mail to directly (eg ‘Look North’).
7. Independent TV Station: Your local ITV news programme.
8. Local news agencies: Many towns have news agencies which network stories out to local media.
Talking to the Media
Many people feel nervous about speaking to the press but it really isn’t difficult to do. Despite their reputation, reporters are usually polite, helpful and accommodating – after all, they need you to help them fill their airwaves or the pages of their paper. If you’re organising a protest they’ll often want a quick quote which you can prepare beforehand – and which Viva! will always be happy to help you with if you like.
If the media contact you and you don’t feel ready to speak to them at that moment, you can simply tell them you’re busy and will phone back in a few minutes. Then you can think about what you want to say, check up on facts if you want or even phone the Viva! office for advice. Remember, they will probably print or broadcast only a very short comment from you so try to think up a single, short statement which sums up the campaign and what you are trying to achieve. (If you’ve got a specimen press release, we’ll already have done that if you want to use our quote). You don’t need to know the subject inside-out but a little knowledge of the basic facts about the campaign may be handy – Viva!’s leaflets will contain more than enough facts you’ll need to know for a typical short interview.
Be polite, don’t be too negative – even if you personally feel very angry about what you’re protesting against, anger and insults don’t come over well to the general public and it is the public we are trying to influence. People tend to be sympathetic to animals and will often be willing to agree with you. Always emphasise that the listeners/readers can help the animals by changing what they eat or where they shop and, of course, by going vegetarian. Mention Viva! so that people know who to contact for more information about the campaign – if you can, mention that free “go Veggie” packs are available from Viva!. But remember, you won’t be speaking to Jeremy Paxman! The reporter will almost always help you to look and sound as good as possible.
Viva! will normally prepare a specimen press release for you for our campaigns, which you can adapt for your local area but if you’d like to find out more about how to write a press release, click here.