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Tried and true tips, techniques and tricks for getting positive media coverage and building your organization's credibility

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How many times have you seen the front page headline that says “Sewage plant worked perfectly today”? The media is simply not attracted to positive stories; they are often looking for conflict, controversy and consequence. However, if approached in the right way, you can use the media as a vehicle for carrying your positive message.

In the words of veteran newsman Daniel Schorr, “If you don't exist in the media, you don't exist.” Whether we like it or not, it's true. The days of “no news is good news” are gone.” While many of our organizations publish brochures and fact sheets, maintain websites and do educational outreach to schools and the community, research shows that more people get their information from traditional news sources–television, radio and newspapers–than any other place. The media–although frequently derided–provide a level of credibility and awareness that public information alone simply cannot achieve. The truth is, organizations with a sustained presence in the media (for the right reasons), often enjoy a degree of legitimacy and credibility that less-known organizations will not.

Getting regular media coverage means more than simply sending a monthly news release about an upcoming public meeting. It's about understanding public values and perceptions, understanding your “brand,” and understanding how to tell your story effectively to the right people at the right time. You really need to earn the coverage.

Credibility can be described as “doing what you say” or “walking your talk.” A strong media relations strategy helps build that credibility by “saying what you do” or “talking your walk.” By developing a proactive media relations strategy, you can help your organization manage its reputation, build long-term support, and earn public understanding, acceptance and credibility.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864704784147917

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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