Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Media Outreach Guide

December 1, 1999

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 Deadlines
  • 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 announce-
  • 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) by having all staff record 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": 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 News Release.)

Feature news 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.

  • a profile on an active community member -- what he or she has done and why
  • fund-raisers and projects that local groups organize in support of HIV/AIDS
  • personal stories of people living with HIV/AIDS
  • targeted prevention programs for those at high risk for infection
  • an exceptional HIV education program at a local business, place of worship or school

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 are:

Other Planning Tips

Day of the Event

After the Event

Back | Next
Table of Contents

This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication Be a Force for Change. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.