- Frequently-asked Questions? Go to our FAQs Page
- Questions about the Kick Butts Day program? Contact the Kick Butts Day Team
- Technical website questions? Contact the Kick Butts Day web team
Promote Your Event to the Media
Want to reach people with your Kick Butts Day message? Let the media know about your exciting event.
Just think: if you have a rally at your state capital with 50 people, then 50 people hear your message - but if you have a rally and alert local media, your message could be seen and heard by hundreds or thousands of people!
Click to jump to:
- Why Is Getting Media Coverage So Important?
- How We Help You Attract Media
- Developing a Strong Message
- Developing Your Media List
- Contacting the Media
- Tips on Talking to the Media
- Holding a Press Conference
WHY IS GETTING MEDIA COVERAGE SO IMPORTANT?
Media coverage can:
- Publicize your event beforehand, so more people will be there to support it.
- Educate thousands of people about your issue and your message.
- Inspire more people to follow your lead and get involved in taking on tobacco companies.
- Attract the attention of public officials who determine tobacco-control policies.
HOW WE HELP YOU ATTRACT MEDIA
After you register your event, our Kick Butts Day media team will contact you and work with you to get media attention.
After a media team member has spoken with you, the event will be listed on our Kick Butts Day map and included in press releases so reporters can find important information about the event details. Then, our media team will start “pitching” your event to individual journalists.
DEVELOPING A STRONG MESSAGE
Before you contact any media, you should have a clear, convincing message.
As a group, think about thetwo or three most important pieces of information you would want people to gain. These are referred to as key messages.
Key messages should:
- Be short and easy to understand.
- Be specific.
Anyone who hears them should understand why your group is taking action.(Make sure everyone in your group knows what they are and can explain them in their own words.)
- Explain to reporters exactly why you have asked them to cover your Kick Butts Day event.
- Use facts – example: "1/3 of all tobacco users die of a tobacco-caused disease."
(Note: you can find state-specific facts on tobaccofreekids.org)
- Inspire people to take action.
For example: "We are doing this to encourage people to support smoke-free workplaces in our town."
DEVELOPING YOUR MEDIA LIST
After you've decided on your key messages, assemble a list of media you will contact. Make a list of all local TV stations, radio stations and newspapers.
Things to consider:
- Each station and newspaper has many reporters who cover different types of news. Think about which ones would want to cover your story.
- With newspapers, start with "metro" or "city" reporters. After that, think of other sections where news about Kick Butts Day might fit, such as health, science or youth.
- At TV stations, look for specific producers. Again, start local and think of all the other possible angles they could use to report on your story.
Be sure to keep track of all the contact information for the media that you decide to contact, including name, title, publication, email and phone number. Using an Excel spreadsheet is a good way to keep this information organized.
CONTACTING THE MEDIA
Now that you've finalized your key messages and compiled a good list of journalists to contact, you will need to prepare your story and get it out there.
Here are some tips:
- Media Advisory:
A media advisory (or media alert) invites the media to an upcoming event. Your goal is to make the event sound interesting and newsworthy and make it easy for reporters to quickly figure out the details. A media advisory alerts reporters and editors to your event by providing them with the five Ws—who, what, when, where and why.
- Media advisories should be sent a couple of days before the event (with a possible reminder advisory the morning of the event). Send them to reporters and editors you think would be interested in the activity.
- Make sure to put a contact name and daytime phone number at the top of the advisory.
- On the remainder of the page, explain your event, using the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” format. Try and keep this information to one page.
These should be short and sweet – state your point, provide an example or two of support, then close.
- Letters should be concise; typically newspapers have a word limit of about 250 words (about 3 paragraphs). Papers are less likely to print long letters.
- Writing a letter to the editor can be a useful way to share your knowledge about tobacco control issues and your Kick Butts Day event with the local community and policymakers. Writing letters to the editor is fairly simple and an effective way for you to be a voice for tobacco control in your community.
- Most newspapers have a website. Check the paper’s website or the editorial page of the print version for information about submitting a letter to the editor. Many newspapers have an online submission form that you can use.
- Op-ed (opinion column):
The op-ed gives you an opportunity to express your opinion, state the facts, and stimulate others to think about an issue.
- It is longer than a letter to the editor, generally 600-750 words. Many newspaper websites indicate a suggested length for op-eds, so check that before writing.
- An op-ed is written by an individual and submitted to the newspaper, but it is different than a letter to the editor because it is in the style of an essay.
- The most effective op-eds stick to one topic and use the most convincing arguments to support that point.
- Make your op-ed timely and relevant.
TIPS ON TALKING TO THE MEDIA
As you go through the process of getting media coverage, there may be many different opportunities to speak to members of the media. Talking to reporters becomes easier with experience. Here are some guidelines to make any conversation with the media easy for you:
- Prepare yourself for each conversation. Remember the reporter's name, where they work and what they do.
- When you reach reporters, introduce yourself and ask if they have time to talk. If not, ask when might be a better time to call back.
- Remember to rely on your key messages. You already know that they will best sum up your reason for being involved in Kick Butts Day. Be sure to use them naturally and explain them in your own words if necessary.
- Speak clearly and concisely. Relax and don't ramble or mumble.
- Be honest. If you don't know something the reporter asks, don't guess. If you know where to find the information, you can say that. Otherwise, refer them to tobaccofreekids.org, which has lots of information on these issues.
- When the conversation is ending, thank reporters for their time and make sure they have your phone number if there are further questions.
- If a reporter leaves a message for you to call, do so promptly.
- If you have to leave a voicemail, be sure to say your phone number slowly and clearly, and repeat it.
HOLDING A PRESS CONFERENCE
If you have the opportunity and resources to hold a press conference, it's a great way to let people know about the results of your Kick Butts Day effort. At a press conference, a spokesperson announces the news (or results or outcomes) and then takes questions from reporters.
To make sure it goes smoothly, use the following checklist:
- Decide on a location for the press conference. Think about interesting places that support your message, such as the steps of your school. Make sure to get permission from the appropriate person to use your chosen location.
- Decide who will speak at the press conference and how long it will last. A good length would be about 30 minutes, including time to answer questions from reporters.
- Invite VIP guests early, such as the mayor or a local legislator.
- Visually interesting events attract crowds and television cameras. Decide what visuals will best convey your message. These are crucial for good television coverage and for photos that can enhance the display of your story in a newspaper. To learn more about visuals, including examples, click here.
- Include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and/or Kick Butts Day logo on your visuals to tie your press conference to the national initiative, giving it greater recognition. Click here to download logos.
- Assemble handouts or press kits to give reporters that include written summaries of your findings, prepared statements to be read at the briefing, photos of your group fighting tobacco and/or graphics that help explain your findings.
Press kits are information packets that explain your organization, purpose, goals and services. A press kit should include items such as press releases, profiles of group members, a fact sheet and contact details.
- Ask all members of the media to sign in and provide contact information so you have a list of reporters to follow up with.
- Give all attendees an agenda for the press conference that includes who will be speaking and the timing for the press conference.
- Be sure you begin and end on time. Thank the media and your guests for attending.
Whatever you are planning for Kick Butts Day, remember that media coverage can help your message be seen and heard by many more people. Although seeking media coverage may seem like a lot of work, it is just as important as planning the activity itself. From the start, your group should include media in the planning. Divide the steps among the members of your group and remember to follow all the tips and suggestions included in this guide. Good luck and don't forget to tell us all about it!
You can email photos, press materials, news clips and other materials about your event to the Kick Butts Day Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.