Working with the Media
Staging a Successful Back-to-School Media Event

Updated: 6.1.06

A media event involves inviting the media to a news conference and/or enrollment activity. Following are items you should consider when planning a media event.

What: Ideally, you should feature an enrollment activity. You can also hold a more formal news conference to launch the multiple Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign efforts in the area. Consider offering the media a schedule of area events, including locations of enrollment activities.

When: Your event should take place within one week of the national launch in order to build on the momentum from the media coverage that the national launch will generate. The best time to schedule a media event is midday, between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. These times and days generate the most media attendance.

Where: Make sure to pick a location where there will be enough children. If you are holding a stand-up news conference in conjunction with an enrollment activity, make sure the enrollment activity serves as the backdrop to the event. Ideally, the location will add relevancy. For example, holding the news conference at a school or day care center would be ideal. Holding your event in a central location, near the media, will also help media coverage. If you are thinking about holding your event outdoors, consider the weather and plan for a back-up location in case of inclement weather.

Who: Your group's enrollment activities should be the focus of the event. You can also work with other groups and agencies to demonstrate a community-wide effort. The media always takes an interest in the human side of an issue, so look for a family that has a positive story to tell about their experience with your state's program. (See Working With and Selecting Families to Speak with the Media in this section.) Consider inviting community leaders, including the mayor, school superintendent or a medical center director, to speak at a news conference. (See the Invitation for an Elected Official or Community Leader to Speak at a News Conference in the Outreach and Event Templates section.)

What Should the Event Look Like?

Signage: If you have a Covering Kids & Families banner and/or a local banner, it will reinforce the message that your organization is part of a major nationwide effort. Hang posters and banners in the most visible place possible. Cameras will want to get footage of the enrollment activity and the banner should be in that shot. Display the banner: 1) behind speakers at a news conference; 2) behind an enrollment booth or table, but in clear sight; or 3) in the entrance of a school or classroom where the enrollment is going on. Contact the Covering Kids & Families Communications Team at (202) 338-7227 or via e-mail at to find out if Covering Kids & Families banners are available to order.

Action and visuals: Recruit people to get the word out and attend your event. You need a lot of people and activity to show that the event is a success. You'll want to show the media that parents are signing their children up for coverage. Ideally, they will do so in front of the cameras. Post a blackboard and keep a running total of how many families have applied for coverage.

What Is the Main Message of the Event and Who Should Communicate It?

Back-to-School Campaign event message: Your organization is joining thousands of other organizations in a comprehensive, nationally coordinated Back-to-School Campaign. You are stepping up efforts to increase the number of children enrolled in low-cost and free children's health care coverage programs. This effort is intended to reach parents who are not aware that their children are eligible for your state's programs. [XX] million children in America are uninsured, yet MOST of them are eligible for low-cost or free children's health care coverage. In [STATE], there are about [# OF ELIGIBLE CHILDREN IN STATE] children who could be insured if their parents knew to enroll them in [MEDICAID/SCHIP PROGRAM]. (See Sample Talking Points in the Media Templates section.)

Spokespersons: Assign one or two spokespersons to communicate the message at the event. Make sure that your spokespersons have been briefed beforehand. Use the Frequently Asked Questions in the Media Templates section to prepare spokespersons but do not distribute them to the public. Your spokesperson should be on hand to respond to the media, convey the Back-to-School Campaign message and describe the activities your group has scheduled. Consider recruiting spokespersons who speak other languages that are frequently spoken in your community. It also is important to include families with children enrolled in Medicaid or SCHIP that have positive stories to tell.