Participating in Federal Public Policy: A Guide for the Voluntary Sector
Central information contact/information hot line
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Paid advertisements in papers and magazines, television or Web sites.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: