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

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Central information contact/information hot line

Description

Designated contacts within your organization that are identified as official liaisons for public, media and government relations. Contact information can be posted on your organization's pre-recorded voicemail message or Web site.

Tips

  • Indicate a person, not a position.
  • Ensure contact person is local.
  • Make sure contact has sufficient knowledge.
  • Provide a toll-free number.
  • Return phone calls promptly and keep answers clear, concise and consistent.
  • Keep all recorded messages up-to-date.
  • Respond quickly to requests for quotes or interviews.
  • Identify an individual who will act as an alternate if the contact person is not available.
  • Include an e-mail contact and a "Frequently Asked Questions" page on your Web site.

Advantages

  • People calling your organization are directed to a designated contact person and avoid getting passed along from employee to employee.
  • Your organization's information flow is controlled and consistent.
  • An information hotline conveys an image of accessibility.
  • Your organization has the opportunity to develop relationships with journalists, government and other stakeholders.

Limitations

  • Designated contact must be committed and prepared to provide prompt responses.
  • Information from the public may not get back to technical staff and decision-makers.
  • It may be difficult for contact person to answer tough questions.
  • An information hotline may frustrate callers if they are always listening to a recorded message.

Television programming

Description

Presenting information on your organization's issues through television programming, such as public service announcements (PSAs), documentaries or news shows allows you to reach a wide audience and to draw out viewer support.

Tips

  • Check out local cable stations as they can offer inexpensive options.
  • Investigate local channels as they often search for events, interviews and human interest stories for their shows.

Advantages

  • Television programming can reach a wide audience from multiple geographic areas.
  • Many local channels will air programs more than once allowing your organization's message to reach new audiences.

Limitations

  • Can be expensive to contract public service announcements (PSAs).
  • Little control over final edit of story or interview.
  • It is one-way communication and that makes it difficult to solicit viewer feedback and gauge reaction.

Advertisements

Description

Paid advertisements in papers and magazines, television or Web sites.

Tips

  • Determine the best days and placement for the advertisement.
  • Avoid the newspaper's "notice" section as it is rarely read.
  • Keep it simple and clean.
  • Ensure contact information is correct.
  • Make the advertisement attractive so as to grab attention but also ensure it sets the appropriate tone.

Advantages

  • Advertising has the potential to reach a broad public audience.
  • Placing an ad may satisfy your organization's legal notice requirements.
  • Your organization will develop public recognition and awareness of its issues.

Limitations

  • Advertising can be expensive, especially in urban areas.
  • Only a limited amount of information can be conveyed within an ad's space or time constraints.

Resources and links on media relations
Managing the Media: A Guide for Activists: http://tenant.net/Organize/media.html

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Last Updated: 2019-11-15