Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

  • Identify the events and issues you want to promote or communicate about over the next year.
  • Describe the event or issue well, including any solution, support, or local action.
  • Decide which medium (print, radio, television, web) is most important to use.
  • Determine which editors or reporters would be most important to contact.
  • Identify other people who should be informed (elected officials, other organizations, influential individuals).

Tools that can be used to implement your communications plan include a press list, pitch letters, media advisories, letters to the editor, editorial-opinion pieces, news conferences, news releases, captioned photographs and photo opportunities, public service announcements, and paid advertisements.

Use every medium possible every time you use one of these tools. You never know what medium may be more interested in what story. Your story may fit as a side story or with one of related interest. Also, working with as many media outlets as possible increases your practice with and awareness of the media.

Better Communication

To communicate more effectively:

  • Kill the jargon.
  • Use simple, powerful words.
  • Use dramatic facts.
  • Discuss important benefits.
  • Call for action: what do you want people to do?


  • green infrastructure
  • canopy cover
  • urban/rural interface
  • sustainable
  • impervious surface
  • storm damage mitigation
  • tree maintenance

Powerful Words

  • nature, trees, parks, clean air, clean water
  • trees, leaves, shade, living things
  • growing places, changing neighborhoods
  • many years, renewable, successful, children
  • life, flowing water
  • repair, safe, fun
  • care, safety, increased benefits

Press List

A press list identifies all the media you intend to send news releases and other materials to. Both print and broadcast media should be included. Identify media, editors, and reporters who are sympathetic to your interests. The list should include postal addresses, office and cell phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses.

Pitch Letter (see example below)

A pitch letter is used when you are requesting something other than straight news coverage, such as editorial support, a feature story, or an interview. A pitch letter should be written to the editor, producer, or reporter you want to work with, so it is important to be aware of their interests and responsibilities before sending the letter. Remember to include your phone number and e-mail address.

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