Using the media to expand the reach of your campaign is like plugging in a massive amplifier. If you get your message into newspapers, on TV/radio and across social media you can reach people in all walks of life who you could never practically get to face to face. And, critically, when politicians see that a campaign is reaching the public/voters they are more likely to respond to it.
The fundamentals: Audience & Message
The dials and switches on this amplifier need careful attention however, especially those marked ‘messages’ and ‘audience’. We are trying to achieve change – to do that we need to reach particular groups of people (whose behaviour we want to change, or whose opinion we want to inform as part of a political campaign) with a clear message. The media is simply the channel to get to them. Because it is the audience that matters, you never do media work for its own sake or for example approach the media outlet that you think will be most likely to listen to you. You focus always on your target audience – WHO do I need to hear my message - then work backwards and think, what media do they read/watch/listen/like/retweet? How can I get my message in there?
For your message, similarly, avoid the temptation to say what those in your organisation or campaign group would like to hear. You are the ‘converted’, and you already have a lot of knowledge about the matter. Think carefully instead – what do those people I want to reach already know or not know about this issue, and what do they need to hear? What terms should I use to help them understand it?
These are the fundamentals. The rest is a bit of planning, drafting, phoning, uploading…
A guide to UK media outlets, information on audiences and messages, practical tips on how to go about drafting statements and calling the press – are all covered in depth in the free media toolkit here.