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Media Outreach Guide

December 1, 2000

This guide provides information on how to understand and work with the three primary mass media venues: television, radio and print.

I. Understanding the News Media

The three most important elements in a good story from the media's point of view are action, people and substance. Match the media's need with your message and ensure that the information is provided to them in a timely manner. In order to develop appropriate media activities and messages, ask yourself:

II. Tips for Success

Allow plenty of planning time when selecting your date and time. Select a time when your most important audiences will be available and when conflicting events are not taking place.

III. Types of News Media

Medium Characteristics Deadline
  • A highly visible medium; visually portrays the importance of your message.

  • Graphics often used in segments.

  • Stories are brief (30- to 60-second segments).
  • day before for breaking news (contact the assignment editor)

  • by 10 AM for the
    6 PM news

  • 3 to 8 wks in advance for public announcements
  • 10- to 15-second sound bites.

  • Be aware of tone and firmness of voice when responding to questions.
  • allow several days notice for public events
  • More in-depth treatment of a subject.

  • May use direct quotes from press statements or news releases.
  • daily AM: 2-3 PM the afternoon before

  • daily PM: early AM the day of  issue

  • weekly issues:  3-5 days before the issue
  • Targets specific segments of the public.

  • Explains more complex health/behavior issues.
  • 6-8 weeks before publication goes to press

IV. Event Calendar

Before the Event

Track Your Media Relations

Track your media contacts (i.e., phone conversations, press releases sent) by having all contact information (name of media person, organization, time, date and topics discussed) on a simple form.

Prepare News Releases

News releases should include, in 1-2 pages, the five "W's": WHO is involved; WHAT happened; WHEN did it happen; WHERE did it happen; WHY or HOW did it happen? The lead paragraph should answer these questions, in one or two sentences, especially since most reporters decide whether or not to read the rest of the release based on the first paragraph, and print editors tend to cut the article from the bottom up. The second or third paragraph should include a "colorful" quote reporters can use in their article. [See "Sample Press Release"]

Feature press releases can be 3-4 pages in length; an attention-getting headline is important.

Your news release may target specific groups, such as people of different age groups, ethnicities or genders.

Some suggestions for releases:

Prepare Media Kits

The "media kit" is a collection of information prepared for the media to be released on the day of the event. Examples of materials that might be included in a media kit:

Other Planning Tips

Day of the Event

After the Event

Program in Action: Cable Positive's World AIDS Day PSA Roadblock

On Friday, December 1st, cable networks and systems across the country will deliver an important HIV/AIDS-related message to the more than 70 million cable households across the United States. Cable Positive, the cable and communications AIDS action organization, will unite the cable industry to "roadblock" a single public service announcement (PSA) at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to observe the day.

Celebrity spokespersons lending their support for World AIDS Day PSAs have included actor/writer Billy Bob Thornton, poet Maya Angelou, NAACP president Julian Bond, and music artists 'N SYNC, Joey McIntyre, Monica and Queen Latifah. In addition to the PSA roadblock, cable systems and networks will telecast original AIDS-related programming throughout the month of December. For more information on Cable Positive's World AIDS Day activities, or to find out how to partner with your local cable system, contact Cable Positive at 212-852-5190, or visit

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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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