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Participating in Federal Public Policy: A Guide for the Voluntary Sector

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Media relations
Politicians watch the media closely. Therefore, an indirect method to reach government officials and policy makers is through working with the media.

For links to local media visit: canada/news.htm
Depending on the specific strategy employed, the approach you take will vary. For feature stories and news releases that depend on generating the interest of a reporter or the editorial board, it is a good idea to build relationships with the local press (or the national press, if applicable to your policy issue). In all cases, adhering to media deadlines is the key to having your information used.

Remember, it is just as important to include positive media stories as it is to include critical stories. A positive story that highlights the involvement of a government department or politician in an event is a very effective way of promoting an issue.

Feature stories


Feature stories are focused reports in newspapers on human- or local-interest issues. Your organization may send its own articles into the newspaper, whether it is a story of an event or an opinion paper.


  • Think of your story using a fresh perspective in order to get the attention of reporters.
  • Schedule interesting events and/or visuals.
  • Give notice to the reporter well in advance and provide them with background material and related stories.
  • Send a copy of any articles that are critical of the government to the Minister's staff in advance. This allows them to provide prompt feedback.


  • A feature story can heighten the perceived importance of your organization's issue.
  • If your issue is highlighted in a feature story, it is more likely to be read and taken seriously by the public.
  • Coverage through a feature story develops recognition and awareness of your organization's issue.


  • Your organization may have little control over what or how information is presented. That is, despite giving a reporter all the relevant information, the newspaper may edit the content based on perceived public interest or space.
  • Audience/scope may not be what you anticipated in terms of influencing public policy.
News releases/news conferences


A news release or news conference is an announcement of an event, performance or other newsworthy item that is issued from your organization to the press. There are two kinds of news releases. The first kind is making news. The most challenging aspect of making news is to be concise while still giving all the information necessary. The second type of news release is responding to news. A news story can prompt an overwhelming response from the public. When you are responding to news, it is important to follow the tips listed below so that your release has a better chance of getting noticed.

Tips on news releases

  • Learn to write like a reporter. Make the release simple, accurate and concise with an emphasis on actions. If it is well written, the news release may be copied almost verbatim in the local press.
  • Format your news release according to media industry standards. Media will often reject news releases that do not conform to guidelines. See for information on formatting press releases.
  • Invite the media to events, especially when politicians are speaking.
  • Hand deliver news releases when possible as this provides the opportunity to discuss your project directly with reporters.
  • Ensure that something in the release stands out and is compelling so that it draws people's attention.

Tips on news conferences

For more resources on working with the media visit:
  • Learn to present the information in a simple, accurate and concise manner. Most importantly, learn how to answer reporters' questions in a manner that only puts emphasis on the issues that you are trying to present.
  • Prepare for questions that you believe the press will ask and maintain control of the press conference.
  • Become known as the expert on your issue and let the media know when government does or doesn't do something that affects your issue.
  • Include interesting visuals that will draw the attention of television and newspapers.
  • Foster relationships with editorial boards and reporters. Be consistent and send information on a regular basis to media contacts.


  • News releases and news conferences inform media of project milestones.
  • News release language will often be used directly in articles so your organization's message will not be distorted.
  • A news conference may catch the attention of MPs, ministers and public service staff.


  • The media response to news releases can be low.
  • News releases frequently receive poor placement in newspapers and get lost in all the other media happenings.
  • You have little control of the final edit.

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Last Updated: 2019-11-18