7 Tips to Get a Journalist's Attention
Updated: Apr 28
Groundups look to attract media attention for a variety of reasons – it helps a groundup gain public awareness which in turn attracts volunteers, aids in donorship drives, or even offers an avenue to reach out to potential beneficiaries. Media coverage also raises a groundup’s credibility, which then allows a groundup to better build its partnerships and networks. This may seem like a challenging task, so here are seven tips to help you get the attention of journalists!
1. Define your selling point
Search the Internet for a couple of similar initiatives that have gained media attention. Make a list of what makes them stand out. Then, reflect on your own initiative and identify what makes you stand out! This defines your unique selling point which can form the content when you reach out.
2. Reach out
Look out for journalists who cover causes or topics of interest related to your groundup. Again, search the Internet for relevant articles and features based on your keywords. Reach out to the journalists covering those specific areas – you can try LinkedIn or this rather useful directory (but don’t limit yourself to just the SPH group) – and share what you do along with your unique selling point in a few lines. Be succinct!
3. Your subject title matters
Editors screen emails to read based on subject titles. They are incredibly busy people, with many leads to pursue, tight deadlines, and probably an insatiable need for caffeine in their veins. So set yourself up for success by having a clear subject title that attracts attention while keeping it short. No clickbait please!
4. Send it once
A sure-fire way of not getting any response to your request for a feature is by getting on the nerves of the person who decides it. The laws of probability do not quite apply here. The more emails you send does not correlate to a higher chance of getting a response. Do it once, do it well. If it doesn’t work out, don’t fret. Return to the drawing board to reiterate the first three tips.
5. Use words that you understand
In our bid to sound sophisticated and polished, we sometimes use words that we do not understand ourselves! Keep it simple and straightforward because the wrong usage of words can be a huge turn off for some journalists. Have a neutral person with a good command of the language read through your short write-up. This helps in terms of grammar and spell-check as well as a check to see if it sounds attention-grabbing enough before sending it out.
6. Get the journalist’s name right
Absolutely crucial. Basic courtesy, and if you’re not sure, find out. Need we say more?
7. Consider whether you’re truly ready for media attention
It’s nice when people start paying attention to your initiative and you start getting validation for the work that you do. Even more so when these are random people that you’ve had no prior dealings with. But do also be mindful of the knock-on effects that come with increased visibility – effects such as an increase in the number of enquiries, more people signing up to volunteer and a certain level of public scrutiny, amongst others. Take some time to consider whether you are prepared for all that, otherwise the media attention may backfire on you. For example, getting media attention may boost your credibility, but that same credibility comes under threat if you’re overwhelmed by the number of enquiries and don’t have the bandwidth (or mental and emotional capacity) to respond to them adequately. Have an honest conversation with yourself and your co-founders to assess whether you and your groundup are ready to handle the media attention.
Media journalists are always on the hunt for great stories, so reach out if you have a compelling one to tell! Nonetheless even as you go about publicising your initiative, remember that what matters most is delivering value and doing right by those that you serve.
These tips were adapted from editor, publications head, and head librarian Sadie-Jane Nunis’ sharing at a Singapore Kindness Movement Networking Session on 15 January 2020. Would you like to attend similar events in future and get access to great pointers like these? Get in touch with our friends over at Singapore Kindness Movement to be part of their Kindred Spirit Circle!
About the author:
Kai is Social Strategist at Groundup Central, bringing fresh perspectives to the table and leaving ego at the door. Say the word dog, he'll be all over the floor.