Building Relationships with the Media – 8 Do’s and Don’ts

imagesBUILDING SOLID RELATIONSHIPS with the news media should be a priority for any non-profit organization.

When communicating with the general public on behalf of your organization; setting up interviews, media conferences, telling a client’s story or going after coverage for one of your events are good ways to get the word out about the great work you do in your community.

So it would make sense to include strategies to build solid relationships with news media in your area as part of your overall communications plan.

Just as with any other stakeholder groups, building relationships with the media is about people. And as with all relationships, they should be mutually beneficial.

8 Do’s and Don’ts for building relationships with the media

  • Do include a media tab on your webpage that provides an organizational backgrounder, executive and spokesperson bios, media releases, FAQ’s, good quality photos and videos, clearly and concisely articulates your area of expertise, etc. This can help set you up as the ‘Go To’ organization when a story breaks in regards to the type of work you do and reporters are looking for expert opinions.
  • When hosting media conferences or events, do assign a handler to meet/greet reporters and show them where to set up, hand out media kits, facilitate interviews, and let reporters know how the conference/event will play out ahead of time.
  • Do prepare your spokesperson(s) (CEO, philanthropist, client, etc.) with key messages ahead of time and do dry runs with them when required.
  • Do invite media when you have a newsworthy occasion and have given thought to the human element of the story.
  • Do send them a handwritten thank you note if they show up for your conference/event or use your story.
  • Do buy a box of doughnuts and deliver it to the local radio station. Who knows, they might invite you into their studio, introduce you and ask you questions about your organization.
  • Don’t complain if they don’t show up for your event. Another story could have broken and they may have been re-assigned.
  • Don’t ignore them if they approach you for a story, even if it’s controversial, (just be well prepared and know what you want to say). If you want them to be there for you, you have to be there for them.

What are your tips for building relationships with the media? What are some of the strategies that have worked particularly well for you?

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Kristi

    Absolutely valuable points. The one with doughnuts is very creative. Like that.I’d add, try genuinely connect with key people through social media ( twitter, blogs), help them with something (be genuine and selfless) and when talking to them when being interviewed…don’t focus only on your cause, but try and find appropriate approach that is in the context and add something valuable to the story they are telling (of course by staying true to yourself and your cause). Be open and genuine. Good one Diana.

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