10-21-14: ***NOTE*** i am just posting this right away so this hasn't been formatted or edited to look nice and all. i'll get to sprucing it up soon.
- wendy
if you have suggestions, or if you'd like to help out with the slac pages in general, please let me know. thanks!
ekelana (at) gmail.com

publicity info from jackson foote
and check slac google docs for the media list he compiled

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jackson Foote

As promised, here is the whole shebang of media contacts that I have collected over the past two-and-a-half years since the 2011 protests.  I have weeded out all of the people who no longer work at these places.  I have also tracked down Twitter handles for most people as this is increasingly a good way to alert reporters of breaking news.  Even getting links passed along by these reporters can be a good media effort because they are networked with other influential people.

Key to this process is making notes about stuff that happens when you and others use the list.  If you talk to a new person, add their name in a new role.  If you are interviewed by a reporter, ask how you can follow up to see the quote.  Ask for names and cell phones

This list can contains a lot of people.***Try to limit your calling to the bolded numbers, unless you think this story would be a very good fit for the reporter.***  The list can be used for events-based pr as well as longer term relationship-building with reporters.  Those relationships often form out of a first event or news that the reporter covers, if you are respectful, helpful and build that relationship by giving the journalist what they need efficiently.

The key to PR, whether it is event-based or relationship-based, is to figure out what would make what you are doing newsworthy.  It is a nuanced complicated process, but these seven values are a good guide:
Timeliness (students are in Chancellor's office right now)
Impact ($1 billion dollars in surprise UW reserve; more than 1000 die in Bangladesh factory collapse)
Novelty (new panda at the zoo)
Conflict (man shoots wife and her lover)
Proximity (anything that happens in Madison)
Prominence (Mayor Soglin takes a dump)
Human interest (man runs naked for prostate cancer).

Generally it takes a couple of these coinciding to make a news story.

Media events (rallies, marches, protests, sit-ins, etc.)

The steps I outline will play into the normal routines of journalists and work toward your organization's favor.

Step 1: Organize your event; make sure it is convenient on two accounts:

(NOTE: we are not talking about the strategy of the event, i.e., the goal of the event, what we would like the headline (or FB share) to be the next day, a d.o.l at the event).

Step 2:  Write the media advisory. Emphasize visuals for tv and news photogs.  The "who" should be descriptive with some approximation of the numbers (e.g., dozens of singing grannies dressed in ole-timey clothes getting arrested).  Make sure to assign two media spokes people who can handle reporters and will be there the entire time.

Step 3:  Email media advisory to editors and producers two full days before the event.  You can just include the entire text in the body of your email.  Feel free to include photos of props you are using ahead of time. The subject line should be like your headline.  Keep it 5-8 words and write it with an active subject (e.g., Dozens of teaching assistants "grade-in" for higher pay).

Step 4:  Email it to everyone on your list the day before the event.  Blast it on email and Twitter. Basically you can email media advisories about events to tv, radio indiscriminately. Be a bit more careful with reporters' emails. This is especially true for print reporters.  The more you saturate their emails, the more they will start to ignore you, making your follow up calls more necessary and, at the same time, annoying. 

Step 5:  Call editors and ask if they have it on their calendars.  Mornings generally work well.  TV editors and producers will tell you that they don't decide until the day of an event.  But then you can say that you will call back the next day to remind them.  Ask who you are speaking to and not the name right away.  ALWAYS STRIVE TO GET NEW NAMES AND CELL PHONE NUMBERS FROM EDITORS AND REPORTERS.

Step 6:  Write the press release.  It should start with a one-sentence lead that encapsulates the important who, what, when where, and maybe how or why of your event/news.

(e.g., Graduate assistants (who) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where) voted Thursday (when) to continue their union as a voluntary membership group (what) that will work with university administration (how) in the face of harsh restrictions on collective bargaining rights imposed when Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting legislation went into effect in June (why).)

The next sentence-long paragraph should be a strongly worded quote from the most important spokesperson in your organization.  The sentence after that should be a fact or two that strongly support the claim your organization is making.  The next sentence/paragraph should be a quote; then back to facts and repeat.

Step 7:  Re-send the media advisory early in the morning.  It is best to send the media advisories to people like editors and photographers.  You could also contact a few reporters who are very sympathetic or who cover exactly what your event is about (e.g., a higher ed reporter covering a student debt sit-in at the chancellor's office).  Jack Craver who works for the Cap Times is the best example.  You want to eventually build relationships with these reporters.


These are a delicate balance between a soft-sell and a hard-sell. You are interrupting the reporter or editor's day.  But you have some information that they might want.  Though if you seem too pushy, they will smell your agenda and their "objectivity" wall will start to drop.  Use the third person to describe the organizers, event if you are one of them "they" "this organization" "the activists wanted me to pass this information along."  The more you can distance yourself from the event, the better.  Always offer to put them in touch with someone who is a spokesperson.

Step 8:  Come up with a 20-30 second pitch for the person who answers the phone. It should tell the editor or reporter the who, what, where, when of the event and then the thing that makes it most newsworthy. TAP INTO THOSE NEWS VALUES LISTED ABOVE.  You should start by saying, "do you know about who, what, when, where?" or "did you receive our advisory about, who, what, when, where?"  Regardless of what they say, go one to explain in 10 seconds its newsworthiness (e.g., "there will be more than 100 'not guilty pleas from capitol singers.'" or "this will likely be the largest sing hearing date for the solidarity sing along").   Also mention the visuals.  Always finish by asking if they think they'll send someone out.  If you don't already know the person who answered the phone's name, ask it.  If they say they will send someone out, ask who and get their cell phone.  TRACK ALL THAT IN THE MEDIA CONTACT LIST.

Step 9
: Practice
. what you are going to say to the reporter a couple times before the first call to make sure that you don't stumble or ramble.  Those provide perfect opportunities for the reporter to say, "thanks" or "got it" and hang up.

Step 10: Call editors, photogs, and reporters to confirm they are coming.

Start with the numbers that are bolded in each news outlet.  Someone will almost always answer the general phone at a TV stations, except during the 5, 6, 6:30 or 10 newscast. You may have to go through an automated system to the "newsroom" or "tips line" or just press "0."  That should ring the newsroom where the assignment editor will be.  At a newspaper the general number has an automated system and likely you have to dial a direct extension for a reporter or for one of the editors listed.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT call cell phones unless you know the person or you are really doing them a favor by notifying them of something that they would **REALLY** like to know about.

Step 11: Greet the reporters and photogs at the event.  Have the press release, printed and ready for them.  Any other background information, like reports, pamphlets, etc. should be in a folder you can hand to each reporter.  Ask for the person's email so you can email it to them. (Sometimes I withhold the paper copy for a while so I can get their email).  Point them toward the spokesperson and take any notes on what they say. Before leaving, ask if they have any other background questions.  This can be a good excuse to ask for their cell-phone and email.  Ask them what day/time it will appear.

Don't be annoying.  Stay a safe distance, but try to get some information out of them without getting in their way.

Step 12Watch the news, listen to the radio, go online, read the newspaper

Track these things in the comments.  If they covered it, note it; if they didn't, do the same.  If the coverage was favorable, not favorable.  If the message got lost, jot it down.

Media Contact List (reporters, editors/producers, photogs)

I've organized the list by media type, outlet, and then people, who are divided as follows:

assign stories and decide what gets printed/on tv.  They should be called directly to tell them about events, because their job is to get the news advisories, press releases and calls and sort through what is worth covering. Reporters are gathering news and writing, shooting, and producing the stories.  They are less available, but ultimately who you want to talk to.

Pitching stories
(release of a new report, trend piece, exclusive information)

Reporters like to find their own stories, but they appreciate tips on theme interesting angle that they might not be aware of (e.g., the fact that Chancellor Ward cancelled his standing meeting the licensing committee when he first campus, an example of bad shared governance).  Reporters really like juicy exclusive news that's coming up that no one knows about (e.g.,decisions by a group that makes an impact outside the group; or a happening that involves a public figure, like when Ward was denounced at the Faculty Senate).  If you tell one (and only one) reporter that these things are going to happen ahead of time, it can be a great way to build a relationship that might benefit your org.  Also try to pitch larger stories to reporters (e.g., the Isthmus piece on how ACT 10 was affecting TAs; we set up the interviews, gave the reporter the data, fed him the framing of the story).  Reports, like the OSHA report that revealed serial violations with chemicals might have been a good story to pitch ahead of the report coming out.  One could have arranged for an interview with a worker who witnessed this.  Setting up interviews is a key part of pitching stories.

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