Communicating your church’s care for our communities: media liaison tips
“When churches contact the media regarding their church activities and initiatives, it gives the respective church the opportunity to show how their community of faith is contributing constructively as we collectively navigate our way through the current health, economic and social challenges,” says anglican focus Editor Michelle McDonald, while providing media liaison tips and offering churches helpful media alert and media release templates
Over the last month, the mainstream media has reported on some heartwarming and inspiring stories, as community members work together internationally to assist and stand in solidarity with each other amid the challenging COVID-19 environment.
For example, The Guardian has shared about how people in the Bavarian town of Bamberg in Germany took to their rooftops and windows to sing ‘Bella ciao’, an Italian resistance song, in solidarity with Italy, where the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise. 7 News has reported on the story of a Melbourne man, dubbed ‘Pete the Generous’, who handed out a total of $10,000 in $100 notes to newly unemployed people in a Box Hill Centrelink queue, after he was forced to close his own deli cafe. Closer to home, the ABC has reported on how St Bart’s, Toowoomba has started live streaming their Sunday services and put together care packages for elderly community members.
The mainstream media has contacted the Anglican Church Southern Queensland and asked us to keep them in the loop regarding ‘good news’ stories, and is very keen to hear directly from individual churches. Such stories may include:
- How churches and ministries are assisting vulnerable community members with their specific needs, such as high-risk people who are sheltering in their homes to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19, people who have recently lost their jobs, and people who sleep rough on our streets.
- How churches are implementing innovative approaches to keeping ‘church’ going with the suspension of gathered church services and activities.
When churches contact the media regarding their church activities and initiatives, it gives the respective church the opportunity to show how their community of faith is contributing constructively as we collectively navigate our way through the current health, economic and social challenges.
The following are some media liaison tips and guidelines for churches and ministries:
- Contact the media by pitching stories over the phone or by emailing a media release along with images/captions (to communicate an initiative, event* or activity that has happened) or a media alert (to communicate an initiative, event* or activity yet to happen that will provide the media with interview and/or photo opportunities).^
- Use ACSQ-branded media alert and media release templates that have been specifically developed for churches and ministries to use, including how to structure and write the text and what contact details to include (more information below).^
- Include firstname.lastname@example.org on your send list when emailing a media release (and images/captions), so it can be considered for use in anglican focus.
- Ian Eckersley (Director of Public Affairs and Communications) should be contacted via IEckersley@anglicanchurchsq.org.au for key initiatives, events* or activities, as he may be able to assist with lining up media coverage (please give Ian several weekdays’ notice).
- Make it easy for journalists by always submitting 3-4 max good quality, high-resolution (at least 1MB), relevant landscape-orientation images, along with complete captions (including who, what, where and when details), when you send media releases.
- Do not worry about coming up with ‘clever’ headlines in your media releases – headlines should clearly and succinctly communicate what the release is about – leave the cleverness to the journalist.
- It is best to give thought to what is ‘newsworthy’ before emailing a journalist – if churches send too many media releases and alerts that are not ‘newsworthy’, a journalist may cease opening the given church’s emails.
- Copy and paste the content of alerts and releases into the body of the email (as well as attaching the alert or release), so it is easy for journalists to view the content on their phones.
- Give thought to email subject lines when you send releases and alerts – consider what is newsworthy and ensure the email subject line clearly and succinctly communicates what the release or alert is about.
- Give the journalist enough lead time (at least 24 hours) when sending alerts and releases.
- Send post-event*/initiative/activity media releases soon after the event*, initiative or activity, otherwise the media release contents will no longer be ‘newsworthy’.
* Once face-to-face events resume.
^ If you would like a copy of ACSQ-branded media alert and media release templates that clearly and effectively show you how to structure the documents, please email your full name, church name and church role to the anglican focus Editor Michelle McDonald via email@example.comJump to next article