Now it’s time to officially announce the formation of your group to the media, public and policymakers. Before you launch your group, identify local and national media outlets and specific journalists at those news sources to target for coverage. Be sure to include those who have covered your issue before. The Institute for Justice can help you identify media outlets to target.
If possible, issue your press release (see section on “Working with the Media” on page 24 for details) announcing the formation of your group and its mission right before a city council meeting or public hearing or immediately after you organize. In your press release, you will want to include:
an announcement about the formation of your group;
quotes from core members and any supportive elected officials, organizations or unconventional allies; and
your group’s next steps.
If possible, provide a national context to tie your fight into others across the country. Send the text of your press release in the body of your e-mail, not as an attachment, to the list of media that you have identified. Be sure to blind carbon copy (BCC), not carbon copy (CC), your contacts. Include your logo at the top. Always send yourself a test message before you fire off anything to the press.
If there is significant interest in your issue, you might consider holding a press conference—but make sure that you have a critical mass of people to attend and stand behind the speakers at the podium. Visuals are powerful, so ask supporters to create posters and hold them. Look for a news hook around which to hold your event. Is there a hearing set for a bill you’re fighting or an event that your fellow entrepreneurs will be gathered at?
If you are going to hold a press conference, you will need to identify a location and get the necessary permits and permission. Do your “due diligence” and make sure you have taken reasonable steps to satisfy any potential legal requirements to hold your event. (See section on “Events” on page 40 for more details.) Identify three or four speakers who will speak for only two to three minutes each. You want your event to be brief. The media isn’t going to stay for long, so you want to make sure they get the sound bite they need to run on their newscast or the quote they need for their article. Work to make each statement by each person brief, powerful (without being shrill) and memorable in both what they say and how they say it both in words and delivery.
Send out a media advisory (see “Working with the Media”) in advance of your press conference to local media. This should include a catchy headline that explains what event is taking place, the date and time, the location, who is speaking and an overview of what is being promoted. But leave some questions unanswered in your advisory to entice media attendance. At the press conference, announce the formation of your group, its mission and next steps. Stick to your talking points.
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