A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Tree, Environmental Advisory, Planning, and Other Municipal Commissions
Many municipal tree commissions and volunteer organizations benefit their communities by working on trees, streams, parks, and open spaces, but news of their successes and needs often fails to reach the public. By working with the media, including newspapers and radio and television stations, these organizations can deliver important messages to the public. Because the media can exert enormous inﬂuence on peoples’ attitudes and actions, a well-planned public relations effort can focus public attention, raise awareness and support, and favorably affect funding and other policy decisions.
The media’s main functions include reporting the news, commenting, and editorializing. The average daily newspaper, radio, or television station in the United States carries four kinds of news: national, regional, state, and local. National, regional, and state news typically comes from large wire services, such as the Associated Press, and syndicates. Local news involves local events and may be generated by local public relations and publicity sources using news releases and other tools.
Local news is truly local in nature: it involves and reaches local government, community organizations, businesses, and residents. Your public relations efforts will achieve the best results when local editors and reporters are familiar with your organization, are accessible to you, and are interested in your local news angle. Maintaining good relationships with these reporters and editors is important, and takes work on your part.
In the newsroom, many activities and issues are ignored. Every day, reporters discard a bulk of news releases for one major reason: the stories have no local interest or angle. That’s why it is important to carefully craft your message to increase its local appeal to a particular medium. You must look for something that sets your actions or news apart from competing stories, and that stresses the impact of your efforts on a local neighborhood or municipality.