Working with the Media: Activist Milestone #5

February 11, 2010

Organize a Press Conference or Statewide Media Call on a RESULTS Issue

Work with your regional coordinator or RESULTS staff to get the training and support you need for these activities.


Possible Times to Organize a Statewide Media Call


January Martin Luther King Day
National EITC Awareness Day
February Release of President’s Budget


March World TB Day(March 24)


April Global Action for Education Week


May–July Congressional Appropriations Process (highlighting specific provisions)


April or August/September Education for All month / Back to School


October International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17)


December/January World AIDS Day (December 1)
Release of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children reportRelease of State of the Microcredit Summit report

For other ideas, see the RESULTS online calendar.


Tips from Past Statewide Media Calls:

  • Keep it local. Give local resources and statistics. We must make the local/global connection for them.
  • Keep it brief, between 25 and 35 minutes.
  • Give journalists plenty of notice to get on the call: 10 days or so would be ideal, with a reminder 2 days before the call.
  • Make the topic engaging. It may not be enough to say, “World AIDS Day is December 1” or “Next week is Cover the Uninsured Week” to get journalists on the call. We must provide the news: what’s happening, what’s controversial, what the trends are, or what’s new.
  • Provide written resources with local info and statistics to back up the call. Statistics on tuberculosis for your state are available from the RESULTS office. Contact RESULTS for more information.
  • Be flexible and roll with the punches. Hope for the best, but prepare for the unexpected. There may be new legislation introduced, or a speaker may cancel at the last minute and will need to be replaced.


First Steps:

  • Choose one or more people to cover the local angle and one or more people to cover the national/global angle. Be careful not to overload with too many speakers. No more than three speakers and one moderator is ideal.
  • Ask local or state experts relevant to your call’s topic to be on the call (e.g. public health expert, education specialist, tax professional).
    • They can be a valuable resource to invite journalists to be on the call in areas where you don’t have RESULTS groups.
    • These are normally not your primary speakers, but they can provide important background and be used as a resource for media writers after the call. They also provide your group with extra credibility.
  • Compile a list of experts willing to talk to the media and plan to send the list to your participants following the call.
  • Pitch the editorial writers or other journalists you would like to participate in the call.
    • Always begin by asking if they have a few moments to talk.
    • Tell them a bit about the call you are planning, and ask if they would be willing to participate. Phrase it more as an invitation than a pitch.
    • If they are resistant, ask them what would make it worthwhile for them to get on the call.
  • Build your relationship by asking what the journalists want, not just focusing on what they can do for us.
  • Reach out to as many papers as possible, large and small, throughout your state.
  • Be sure to compile a contact list of those who will or might attend the call for call notices, updates, and follow-up.


Setting Up the Call:

The call-in line:

  • To get a RESULTS call-in number for participants to call, global poverty groups may contact Ken Patterson ([email protected]) and U.S. poverty groups should contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]).
    • Make sure all dial-in or joining information is readily available to your participants. Be sure to double check that you have enough lines available for the call; some conference or webinar companies limit the number of people who can join for a single call.
  • Encourage participants to call in 5 minutes early and be prepared to start on time.
  • Make sure you have contact info for all of your speakers if you are not in the same room. That way, if a speaker seems to be running late, you’ll be able to contact them.

Before the call:

  • Compile a list of experts to send to the media following the call.
  • Create a compelling press release with all the details to send to members of the media.
  • Determine the time of the call.
  • Determine who is sponsoring the call.
  • Determine the topic.
  • Determine the expert speakers.
  • Prepare speaking points for journalists to interest them in participating.
  • Inform interested journalists how to participate.
  • Assign one member of your team to track logistics and contact participants who fail to call in.
  • Assign one member of your team to track the time on the call and keep things moving if the call falls off schedule.
  • Assign one person to open the call, welcome participants until the moderator gets on, and begin the recording of the call. Choose one person in your state to be a contact person for the media if they have any direct questions after the call. This keeps things tidy, and you can always pass them on to local RESULTS partners or outside experts in their area if appropriate.
  • The speakers:
    • Fully prepare your speakers on what you would like them to cover on the call. Don’t be shy here; they will appreciate the guidelines and the call will be more focused.
    • Make sure you have both global and domestic angles covered.
    • Give speakers an agenda of the call with their roles and time limits highlighted.
    • Remind them by telephone two days before your call and by e-mail on the day of the call.
  • Arrange to have someone transcribe call, if possible, and send to participants. This process may take time, but it is often worth it for journalists to be able to refer back to the script and see what was said


Typical Agenda for the Call:

  • Moderator opens the call.
    • Begin the call by informing participants how to mute and un-mute the line, and how to ask for assistance. If you are not using a service that automatically mutes participants until Q&A sections, you must tell them so.
    • Journalists identify themselves as they come onto the call (if there are a large number in attendance, you may want to skip this step)
    • Moderator welcomes journalists.
    • Moderator outlines call agenda.
    • Moderator introduces RESULTS.
    • Moderator introduces speakers.
  • Expert speakers take about 5 minutes (or more, if there are only a few speakers) to outline their points.
  • Moderator transitions between each speaker, thanking the previous speaker and introducing the next.
  • After expert speakers, moderator takes questions from the media. Be sure to ask journalists to identify themselves and their media outlet when asking a question.
  • Before closing the call, moderator lets journalists know what resources are available to them.
    • List of experts and their contact information.
    • Background information that could be provided.
    • Local and state relevant statistics.
    • Local contact person for media questions after the call.
  • Moderator closes the call by thanking everyone for participating.


After the Call:

  • E-mail participants and send them supporting information
  • Be prepared to answer follow-up questions.
  • Be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

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