Tips on Reaching the Media to Promote the National School Backpack Awareness Day
Media coverage can vastly increase a community's knowledge of and participation in any event. The suggestions offered here are intended to help you organize your media efforts. They are geared to showcasing National School Backpack Awareness Day and the profession's stake in the health and well-being of individuals and the community.
Develop a Media List
Make a list or database of the following:
- Daily and weekly newspapers, newspaper supplements, and special sections or columns that typically cover education, schools, or local news
- Radio stations
- Television stations, including local cable channels
- Web-based community news sites.
The media list should include contact names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the reporters, columnists, and editors (newspaper); news directors (radio); and producers (TV) of the media outlets you have targeted.
If you're promoting an event, you can also place information in community calendar listings. Calendars have strict deadlines and limitations on the number of words you can include.
Identify an Occupational Therapy Spokesperson
Choose someone who can speak authoritatively on National School Backpack Awareness Day and is comfortable speaking publicly. This spokesperson should be attending the event and be available for possible telephone interviews before and after the event. It also is good to have a back-up spokesperson. Delivering on the interview is important to developing good media relationships for future issues and activities.
Draft a Media Advisory
Here’s a sample media advisory. Be sure to tailor the advisory to your community and your specific Backpack Day event. Also, be sure to include at least one quote from your spokesperson.
Contact the Media
E-mail the editors and reporters on your list. (If this is a long list, it's a good idea to prioritize the contacts, creating an "A list" and a "B list." Give priority to reporters with whom you already have a relationship and those who you think will be most interested in the subject matter.) Never send your media advisory as an attachment—always include it in the body of your e-mail below your signature. In your e-mail, as succinctly as possible, touch on the major points of your story, including why the issue is important to the reporter's readers or audience. Offer the reporter a chance to interview your spokesperson.
Follow Up E-Mails with Phone Calls
Reiterate major points of your story, ask if you can provide any additional information that would get your story covered and again offer an interview with your spokesperson.
When speaking about occupational therapy, be sure to say "occupational therapy" rather than "OT," and include the fact that Backpack Day has been taking place on the third Wednesday in September since 2001. Don't forget to mention any good visuals if you're speaking with a newspaper or television reporter!
Evaluate Your Effectiveness
Which reporters covered your story and which did not? Sometimes it's just a matter of timing. If other news pulls media attention away from your story, follow up later with reporters who seemed interested when you first pitched the story to them. Offer additional story angles, if possible. After Backpack Day, analyze the reasons information was or wasn't utilized so that you can adapt your approach the next time you pitch occupational therapy issues or backpack awareness to the media.