A Media Training Guide for Affordable Housing Advocates

Whatever your housing organization’s focus, sooner or later you’ll find it necessary to influence the media and public opinion to achieve your goals. Here’s why:
• The media influences public perception. A news story can sway public opinion either positively or negatively toward your cause. You undoubtedly want your issue to be portrayed in the best possible light. While that’s not always possible, doing your part to shape media coverage and public perception can help.

• The media influences decision makers. You can use media coverage as a carrot or a stick to pressure decision makers to do the right thing. Targeted media can help light a fire under an issue that would otherwise have been ignored.

• Your cause gets free publicity. Relative to the labor you put into it, securing media coverage pays for itself many times over given the thousands, even millions of people you can reach through media. Aside from the almost negligible cost of sending initial e-mails or making phone calls, news coverage of your story is publicity that money doesn’t need to buy.

• The media can warn you about potential negative coverage. If your story won’t be covered as positively as you’d hoped, or if a backlash is imminent, you might get a heads-up from a friendly reporter, enabling you to take corrective action quickly. Although conducting a media relations campaign might seem a daunting task, this Media Training Guide simplifies the process by providing some essential guidelines and information you need to create a campaign that will get results for your organization. The guide provides step-by-step directions, advice, and examples that will enable you to plan a campaign tailored to your needs and resources. You’ll find information here that you can use in your public relations efforts, no matter the size of
your staff, your time frame, or your budget. The Media Training Guide is modular; if you’re already familiar with one communications element, simply turn to the next section of interest. In these pages you’ll find:

• An overview of the nine essential elements of a successful media relations
campaign, followed by sections that provide in-depth information on each key
• Pull-out sections for quick reference;
• A special section, “Resource Guide for Reporters, Editors and Publishers” that you can distribute among targeted reporters and editors; and
• Case studies analyzing how three California newspapers and a Baltimore paper covered affordable housing topics and how their positive exposure can influence the debate and improve communities.

We hope you’ll use this guide, adapt it to your needs, and share your results with others.

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