To make the impact of your pro-life activism reach even farther, you can make efforts to get your activities covered by the media. Abortion is a hot-button issue, so if you present your story in a compelling way, reporters will often be interested enough to cover you.
Earning media attention for your pro-life events starts with understanding the media and familiarizing yourself with all the media outlets in your area. Start by reading the Ten Commandments of Media Relations [PDF] by Tom Ciesielka of TC Public Relations. These rules will help you get the best cooperation from the media you can by understanding what attitudes and actions will help get your story told.
Researching the media in your area
You can’t expect to get good media coverage if you aren’t really familiar with the media in your community. You probably know the call numbers of some of the local radio and TV stations and the name of the main newspaper, but now it’s time to go deeper and really get to know those media outlets.
Compile a media list to which you can distribute your press release when the time comes. To help you make a comprehensive list of the media in your area, check out MondoTimes.com, a directory of local media outlets. Also see if there are local news websites like Patch.com in your area. Write down website, phone numbers and email addresses for all these outlets.
Find out what reporters in your community have already written about abortion, religion or activism on other issues. They will be the ones most likely to be interested in the story your activism is telling, and you should reach out to such reporters directly.
Sending out a press release
Once you’ve compiled your media list, you’ll want to prepare your press release.
Be sure to include all the pertinent details about your event, the “What, Where, When and Why”. Reporters can also be drawn in by a list of the “visuals” of your event, that is, what they’ll see and what their photographer can take pictures of. Things like a picket line or people holding signs as well as people of all ages and any striking visuals like a memorial with flowers, known speakers who may be talking, or images of abortion victims.
Include the facts about your protest, but also include a striking quote or two attributable to a specific person, you or someone in your group who won’t mind talking to the press.
Send out your press release to all of your local media contacts twice, five days before your event, and again the day before the event.
Take a look at these sample press releases from some of our past events to get an idea of both the style and tone you’ll want to strike in your release.
- Press release for a prayer vigil at Planned Parenthood
- Press release for a Face the Truth Tour (display of abortion victim photos)
- Press release for a protest of a Planned Parenthood fundraiser
Working with media at your event
On the day of your event, designate one person to be your media liaison. They will be the person the media will talk to if they come to your event. This will help keep the messaging consistent and professional.
The media liaison should have copies of your press release to give to the media and have the basic talking points of your message down cold. Be sure to stick to the message you want to get out to the media. If their questions aren’t getting to it, make your answers get it out there.
Don’t assume reporters are hostile. If they’ve already come to cover your event, they’re genuinely interested in the story you have to tell! Be grateful for their presence, welcome them, and stick to your talking points.
Finally, keep a list of links to all the media stories that you find. To help keep this list organized, record both the link to the story and the headline of the story. You should also take note of the reporter’s name for future reference: here’s someone who is interested in our mission and has a vested interest in keeping up with future developments. And it never hurts to send them a quick email thanking them for coming to your event and writing about it.
Be sure to share links to coverage on social media and in any email contact you may have with other pro-lifers in your area. Clip out any hard copies from the local newspaper and save them in a safe place.