Grants:Learning patterns/Let the media know
|All the events were covered very well by print, air and online media channels. The news reports which came in multiple editions on several days distributed over a few weeks helped the brand identity "Wikipedia" or "Wikimedia" to get imbibed very well into the minds of common people who are exposed to the knowledge world mostly off-line and casually on-line. Subsequently, there has been a surge of activities, edits and new user entries into our projects.||
|— Malayalam Wikipedia 10th Birthday Celebration report.|
What problem does this solve?
Events and outreach activities are great ways to engage Wikimedians and inspire newbies. But how do people know about these events without a little help from the media? Letting the media know in advance of events is a good way to preview the events, have media coverage of the event, and potentially, have media interested in Wikimedia work in the long term. On top of that, media coverage can possibly increase interest and attract more people to Wikimedia projects and also give you materials to document and support your evaluation efforts. Bottom line: the media will help you to share your event's awesomeness with the world.
What is the solution?
- Create a list of the media folks you want to contact (collaborate on it, wiki-style, and save it for future events too!)
- Decide who will be the primary and secondary contacts for these media representatives (and try to keep them consistent)
- Craft a press release or a list of key messages that you share with the media
- For a preview, make sure you have all the details of where, when, who is attending, and for what
- For media covering the event, make sure you check back with them at the end of the event if they have all the information they need, clarify important details and ask (if possible) to see the article before publishing.
- Depending on the form of the media, think of different strategies. For example, with TV, make sure you suggest interviews with interesting Wikimedians or other participants in the events. With photographers and print media, suggest good photo opportunities or provide good pics (and suggest making some available CC-by-SA on Commons!)
- Use social media, both to gain press and to distribute coverage. Facebook and Twitter are easy ways to talk publicly about your work. By @mentioning relevant communities, allies, organizations, and partners, you can get lots of likes and retweets with little work.
- And finally, make sure you have a landing page on wiki where you can link to all the fabulous media coverage you get!
Different media outlets, including social media, have different interests, standards of coverage, and availability. The one certain thing is that if you don't give them a chance to find out about your activity, they won't! :)
- Traditional media outlets expect press releases. It's probably worth your while to learn the basics of how to create one.
- Pitch your activity in a way suited to each medium's interests or fields, if possible.
- If you sent out press releases or invitations more than two or three days in advance, repeat the invitation one to two days before the activity. Don't by shy! People are busy; people forget.
- Make it easy for the media – prepare easily digestible explanations of key aspects of your activity (e.g. a single paragraph about free licenses), to help the media report effectively. If possible, send these in advance.
- To get media interested in publishing a report about your activity after it happened, be sure it's fresh! Most media don't want to report on things that happened two weeks ago...
- If you have limited resource, collaborate with partners/volunteers that are well connected with the media. For WLMTH2014, we had four partners (mobile operator, social media website, heritage society and metro company) help us contact the media.
- You can also seek outside funding for media outreach. For WLMIE we received a grant from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to hire a publicity agent to contact the media.
- You're hosting an editing workshop that's open to newbies
- Your Wikimedia project has reached a milestone or concluded a significant quality drive
- You're looking to maximize your outreach efforts through this event
- Media attention for Wiki Loves Monuments USA 2012 in Washington, DC.