Anywhere you live, people will use a form of media to communicate with each other. This could be a school newsletter, a local newspaper, a radio station or a TV programme. Building public awareness is an important part of the advocacy process.
Media is a powerful tool for advocacy. By using your voice in the media, you can influence decision makers, politicians, and the general public. Our society is sometimes called the information society. Every day, and through different kinds of channels, information is shared to inform, educate or entertain – as well as to sell products and services. Information and messages reach people through text, image, animation, film and sound and are produced by journalists, advertisers and the general public.
Journalists or reporters are professionals who produce and distribute news based on facts supported by evidence. Journalists are bound by strict professional ethics to remain accurate and fair in their reporting and to stay honest and transparent in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Advertisers share information that will make the receiver want to buy a product, service or ideology. They are also governed by ethics not to share false information or use offensive language or imagery.
The general public is all the people who have an opinion and decide to communicate it through different means, including social networks.
How to attract the media's attention
Journalists have space to fill every day in their newspapers, television or radio programmes and engaging them is an important part of advocacy. Reporters are always looking for good content, and you will get their attention if you can offer them a strong story. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Find contacts. You may know the names of a few journalists, but do some research first to find out who would have interest in the theme you are covering. Find their social media profile, read their articles, follow them and watch for an opportunity to connect with them directly about your project.
Connect. Let’s say your project is about education, and the journalist you would like to connect with covers that topic. A good time to reach out is a few weeks before the beginning of the school year, for example, because they will likely seek good content for those days.
Pitch stories. A simple and direct summary of your story idea, or pitch, will get a reporter’s attention. Keep your pitch to one page or shorter
Follow up. Once you have sent your pitch, follow up with an email or call in a few days. Remember not to be too pushy. Journalists receive pitched stories all the time and have many projects to choose from. You want to build a pleasant rapport with them to maximize the chance they will reply to your emails or pick up the phone when you call
You always have the option to write a short article, opinion piece or blog post and try to have it published in a school newsletter, larger newspaper or online. You could even produce a podcast to share your message (though that takes more time and effort). Or you can get creative and express your- self through poetry, storytelling, comics or artwork. The main goal is to get your idea into the world. Regardless of what form you pursue, make sure your message is strong and clear.
Social media is a powerful platform to communicate ideas and raise awareness. Learn more about how to organise a social media campaign and stay safe while doing it here.
Interested in doing advocacy? Read more about how you can champion change through advocacy here!
Also have a look at the Youth Advocacy Resources Hub for more tips, tricks and tools to help you along your advocacy journey!