Working with the Media
Engaging the Business Community, Step 9: Working with the Media

Updated: 6.1.06

This section serves as a guide to conducting outreach specifically to the business press. It builds on what you already know about media outreach in general and gives you the information and tools necessary to be successful in working with this niche of reporters and media outlets. For more information on media outreach, download the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign Action Kit.

Make the Most of Your Business Partnerships

Your new business partnerships open up many new opportunities for media outreach. From announcing a partnership at a news conference to jointly submitting an op-ed to your local newspaper, there are many ways you can leverage your business partnerships to augment your media outreach efforts. For your new business partners, media coverage can be a particularly critical component of the partnership. Positive exposure in the media is one of the best ways to show a company that its involvement with your organization is valuable to its business.

Objectives

Use business partnerships to bring additional media attention to Medicaid and SCHIP.

Show the benefits of working with your organization by generating positive exposure in the media for your business partners.

Persuade other companies to join your outreach effort.

A Smooth Partnership

Most companies have public relations or community relations offices or someone who is in charge of that aspect of the business. When planning an event or media outreach activity with a new business partner, enlist the help of your partner's public relations professionals. By coordinating your media outreach efforts, you will improve your chances of success.

There are a few things to remember when working with your business partners:

Always cite the company's name according to the company's specifications. Many companies have both a formal name and a name that is used colloquially. Consult your business partner about the correct way to refer to the company both in writing and when speaking.

Determine who is going to serve as the spokesperson for the company when speaking about the partnership. Confirm the spokesperson's title and the correct spelling of their name.

Be sure to get a signoff from your business partner on all materials that mention the company name, the spokesperson or the partnership.

Provide talking points for the company's spokesperson when they speak publicly about the partnership.

Keep your business partner informed about the results of your outreach efforts by providing materials and news clippings. Reinforce your relationship with photographs from in-store enrollment events and stories of families that are now enrolled as a result of the company's participation.

Develop Your Message

Before you conduct media outreach related to your business partnerships, it is critical that you determine your message. While connecting uninsured children to low-cost and free health care coverage remains the major component of your message, you will need to explain the importance of your business partnerships and how they will help connect kids to health care coverage.

In addition, it is important to consider the audiences of business news outlets. Beyond the general business audience, the business press also reaches business leaders and opinion leaders in the community. Therefore, speaking to the business press is an indirect way of speaking to an influential group of people whose support for your programs could be critical. Tell your audience why the business community is supporting your outreach efforts and why continued support for these programs is good for the community.

Your messages about business involvement in your outreach efforts should become an integral part of your overall message. Whenever you speak publicly about your program, be sure to mention the involvement of your business partners.

Opportunities for Media Coverage

There are many ways to take advantage of your business partnerships and create opportunities for media coverage. Work with your new business partners to determine what level of involvement they would like to have in both business and general media outreach efforts.

Here are some media outreach activities to consider:

Issue a press release. If you do not have the resources to organize a news conference, be sure to issue a press release announcing the partnership. Major partnerships should be announced publicly. A press release formalizes the partnership by putting it in writing and informing the media. Be sure to share draft press releases with business partners. Download a template News Advisory and Press Release.

Submit a joint op-ed to your local newspaper or a drop-in article to a trade publication or newsletter. Instead of holding a news conference, you can announce your partnership via an op-ed or drop-in article in your local newspaper, a trade publication or a business newsletter. You can write a joint op-ed with your business partner, or you can draft one yourself then give it to your partner for approval. Download a template Op-ed and Drop-in Article.

Organize a press conference to announce your new partnership. Announcing a new partnership gives you an additional opportunity to speak publicly about low-cost and free health care coverage for children and highlight how outreach efforts are expanding with the help of the private sector. There are many things you can do to make the news conference interesting. For instance, hold the event at your business partner's offices or one of its stores and provide the press with a list of the planned outreach activities. If the company has agreed to make fliers available to customers, then show a sample of the flier. If the company has agreed to hold in-store enrollment events, announce the dates. In general, you want to provide as many specifics about the partnership as possible. For more tips on organizing a press conference, download the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign Action Kit.

Hold a kick-off enrollment event. If your business partner has agreed to host enrollment events, consider making the first one a kick-off event and inviting the media. Without holding a full-blown news conference, you can have a few speakers make brief remarks to initiate the event and then follow up with one-on-one interviews with the press. Try to have a photographer on hand so you can submit photos to the press. Be sure to promote the event heavily. Since the media will be there, you will want the event to be well attended. For more tips on organizing an enrollment event, download the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign Action Kit.

Include your business partner in your other media events. Whenever you are planning a media event, include your business partner. For example, if you are planning a Back-to-School Campaign news conference, work with your business partner on ways it can be involved or recognized.

Media Tools

The media tools you use to conduct general media outreach are the same ones you use to conduct outreach to the business press. These tools include:

News advisories. A news advisory is used to inform the media about a scheduled news event. It includes enough information to convince the media to show up at the event but does not reveal the "news" to be announced. It contains necessary details, including a description of the event, where and when it is taking place, and who will be participating. A news advisory is typically e-mailed or faxed to the media three to five days before an event and is then resent the day before the event and again the day of the event. Always follow up with phone calls to the media to encourage them to attend.

Press releases. A press release contains the news you are announcing. It should be distributed to the media at the event. Following the event, it should be widely distributed to the rest of the media on your press list. If you would like to make an announcement without holding a press conference, a press release can serve as the vehicle for your announcement.

Drop-in articles. A drop-in article reads like a news story but is authored by a local leader. It can be sent to local community newspapers, organization and business newsletters, and relevant Web sites. Usually, these types of publications request a lead time of two weeks.

Op-eds. An op-ed contains both news and opinion. It should be sent to the editorial page editor at your local newspaper. Each newspaper determines its own length requirements, but, typically, op-eds are 400 to 500 words in length. Follow up with a phone call to the editorial page editor to reinforce your points and the significance of running the op-ed in the newspaper.

Talking points. Talking points should be used by spokespersons so that there is a consistent message. They should be used by your business partners and anyone in your organization who will be speaking to the media or in other public venues. Talking points can also be used when trying to interest a reporter in a story or when conducting an interview.

Expand Your Outreach to the Business Press

Business partnerships give you the opportunity to approach a new set of reporters and media outlets about your partnerships and Medicaid and SCHIP. The first step is to develop a business press list so that you can target reporters and news outlets that cover the business community. The press list should include the following:

Business section reporters and editors. Almost every newspaper has a business section and reporters who cover business issues or general issues as they relate to the business community.

Business newspapers' assignment editors and reporters. Some media markets have newspapers dedicated entirely to business issues.

Radio and television business beat reporters. Many television and radio stations have business beat reporters and devote a section of their daily newscasts to business news.

Local trade publication editors. Trade publications exist for almost every industry and are typically well read by those involved in a particular industry.

Business newsletter writers. Newsletters are regularly published by organizations representing the business community, such as chambers of commerce and Rotary Clubs.

Call each media outlet to find the appropriate media contact using the following guide:

Newspapers. Call the newspapers on your current press list and ask for the names of the business editor and the business reporters. If you developed your press list from a media directory, the same directory will list business newspapers. Call and find out if there is a reporter assigned to cover business activities within the community.

Radio. Ask for the business news reporter. If there is no specific person assigned to the business beat, ask for the news director. Ask if the station covers business news and who should be contacted regarding local business news.

TV. As with radio, ask for the business news reporter. If there is no specific person assigned to the business beat, ask for the news director and inquire who should be contacted regarding local business news.

Local trade publications/business newsletters. If possible, work with your business partners to develop this part of your list. They are likely to be on numerous mailing lists for publications and newsletters that you could potentially target. In addition, your local chamber of commerce might be able to provide suggestions on local publications.

Web sites. Many newspapers also have a presence online and, in many cases, have a separate editorial staff assigned to produce news for the Web site. Call and find out if there is a reporter assigned to cover business news for the Web site. Also, media directories list additional business Web sites with original editorial content. Call these Web sites and ask to speak with a reporter who covers local business news.