If you or your group is working to help wildlife: Tell everybody; the more people who know about your efforts, the better. Aside from inspiring others to follow your example, you’ll be educating people about the importance of habitat conservation for wildlife and humanity.
If you live in a small town, your local newspaper may be interested in doing a story on your project. Daily newspapers in larger centres may be less interested, but are worth a try. Most dailies have a human interest or local neighbourhood section, as well as personal comment or environmental columns, where your story might be appropriate.
In larger centres there are often small volunteer-run tabloids that cover different areas of the city. Newspapers such as this are perfect for bringing attention to your story.
Contact a Cable TV Station
Many communities have their own cable TV station. These stations are always interested in neighbourhood news; your project could be just the thing! Once you’ve completed the planning stages of your project, present your ideas and goals to a cable representative. Ask how the station could publicize your activities. Don’t wait until the day before you start your project - TV stations have to plan too!
Write a Newsletter or Newspaper Article
You could also publicize your project through a newsletter, or environmental column in a newspaper. Both are good ways to keep your community up to date on conservation efforts.
• A newsletter should contain an interesting mix of short articles, informative “Did-you-know...?” tidbits, graphics (such as cartoons), and advertisements for upcoming meetings, field trips, and so on.
• Use existing networks, such as a local newspaper or publications produced by your office, community association, and other organizations, to help distribute the newsletter.
• Ask for permission to post your newsletter on community notice boards, or in local businesses and medical establishments.
• Newspaper articles should be short, lively, informative, and to the point. Enlist the help of a skilled writer in your group to do the job. Consult with the news editor before you submit your piece.
Start a Wildlife Bulletin Board
Waiting in a line-up can be boring, but you can make it more interesting and help wildlife at the same time. Find a place, such as a bank, ministry of transport office, or post office, where people often wait in line. Approach the manager and ask for permission to put up a wildlife bulletin board. Offer to fill it with different items - including progress reports on your own community project - each month.
You might also keep your existing office bulletin board filled with interesting wildlife tidbits.
Hold a Special Media Event
A great way to get coverage from local newspapers and radio and TV stations is to plan a special media event connected with your community service project. Here’s how to get their attention:
• Decide on a suitable event. A kick-off celebration, for example, would bring attention to an ambitious long-term plan organized by a community group. It would be a perfect opportunity to invite the media and other members of your community. You could even ask a local celebrity, such as the mayor, to plant a tree for wildlife as part of the festivities.
• Assign a member of your group the task of contacting local newspapers and radio and TV stations. Don’t forget cable stations!
• If possible, plan for your media event to take place between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. That’s the best time to attract media attention. It will also help ensure that your event is covered in the afternoon edition of the newspaper, and on the evening TV newscast.
• Phone the media two weeks before your event and brief them on your plans. Give the date your activity will take place, the size of your project, and the number of participants. Tell them you’ll follow up with a media release.
• Enlist the help of someone who writes well to prepare a concise, lively, one-page, double-spaced news release.
• Answer the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. Don’t forget “how”!
• Provide a contact name and phone number at the bottom of the page. Indicate when the contact can be reached.
• Email or fax your media release to the assignment editor one week before your event.
• Follow up by calling the media a few days later to remind them about the event and ask if they’ll be covering it. If not, offer to submit a story. For weekly or community papers, provide a black and white photo with an explanation on the back. (Enlist the help of a photographer.)
• If you expect a photographer or TV camera and crew to be present, plan visually stimulating activities and mention them in advance to the appropriate media contacts.
• Choose a spokesperson that won’t freeze up on camera or in front of a microphone. He or she should be prepared to discuss your activity and its purpose.
• Follow up on any media coverage by sending a thank-you email or letter to the editor.
• Another great way to inform the media and general public about your event is to issue a public service announcement (PSA). You can likely do this via email, fax, or old-fashioned snail mail. Send it a minimum of two weeks in advance. Your PSA should include the name, date, time, and location of your event. It should also provide the purpose of your event, contact information for potential attendees, and a brief mission statement about your organization.