- /Using The Media To Promote Good
Using The Media To Promote Good
USING THE MEDIA TO PROMOTE GOOD GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY (Topic- No. 8)
Understanding Media and Media Advocacy
Most of us are familiar with the popular Nigerian saying “Wetin dey for Sokoto, e dey for Shokoto” it literarily means, what we are looking for in faraway places may be around us. As simple as it sounds, it urges us to look inward to solve our problems.
What are the things we have around us that can solve our community problems? One of the things in our “Shokoto” that we look for in “Sokoto” is the MEDIA. I will explain by asking some basic questions about the things we do day-to-day that show we have the tools to bring change in our community:
• Do you listen to Radio?
• Do you read Newspaper?
• Do you watch TV?
• Do you have advertising billboards around you?
If you answered YES, to the above questions, then we are close to getting our messages OUT, LOUD & CLEAR!
The mass media is part of our daily life, they are channels such as television, radio, Newspapers, magazines and others means used to communicate to many people. We all rely on the media for information, news, entertainment, educative programmes and a host of other reasons why some of us walk about with a hand-held radio but we forget the influence the media could have in our community advocacy and development projects. The use of any form of mass media to support community organising and advancing a social cause is known as Media Advocacy.
The media plays a major role in driving social change, as they can get the message out to the local and international audience including the Government, Global decision makers and the wider society. We need the media to easily reach out to decision makers and hold our elected leaders to account, to bring the desired change in our community.
The role of the media in promoting good governance is well established, even though there have been cases of attack on the media by politicians, Government officials and private individuals.
In promoting good governance in Tarkwa Bay and Atlas Cove Communities we need to get in contact with media houses and establish relationships with Journalists, Editors of Newspapers, Radio and TV producer and other media personalities involved in media advocacy to promote the work we do as a community and relate lingering issues we face to the wider public and create public awareness of these issues. This is an effective way of holding our elected leaders to account, thereby creating opportunities to solve our community issues.
SO HOW CAN THE MEDIA WORK FOR YOU?
• The media can write news articles on the state of your community that could reach local and international audience including Government, policy makers, Development organisations, civil societies, human right and civil liberties organisations and the wider public;
• The media provides us with a platform to let our voices heard, especially when bureaucratic bottleneck have denied us access to our elected representatives
• The media can keep politicians on their toes by holding them to account, to ensure they deliver on their election manifestos.
• The media play plays a key role in shaping policy debate that impacts our community
• The media can also provide additional viewpoints in support of our community advocacy campaign
• The media inspires the public to support development initiatives
• The media is can support us in organising press conference, Vox pop, interviews and other forums to reach out to a larger audience.
WHY MEDIA ADVOCACY?
The Community Toolbox further describes the need for media advocacy:
• To inform the media and the public about our community development campaigns
• To use the media to mount pressure on our elected representatives and lawmakers to initiate programmes and policies that will improve the lives of local people.
• To use the media to get our voices heard, allowing community members to share their stories in their own words.
• To give communities more control by giving community members who might not have access to the media have a stronger voice.
• Shining the spotlight on our community will inspire community members to get involved to solve community issues .
• Influencing the media to cover stories that will "light a fire" under other community members, so that they get involved and contribute to community-driven solutions.
Establishing Good Media Relationship
During our Focused Group discussion (FGD), we asked community representatives why they have not reached out to Government agencies responsible for addressing some of the community issues and the response we get is, “we do not have connection”. We often think we must know an “Oga at the top” to get our voices heard. We can get to the “Oga at the top” by establishing a relationship with the media.
In our introduction, we mentioned that the Media is one of such things in our Shokoto that we look for in Sokoto. This may be news to you but we all access the media every day. So how can you establish good media Contact? Let us start off by answering the following questions to help us create our media directory.
NB: Given the nature of our community, there are basic assumptions that not all community members have access to televisions since the community is not connected to the power grid. So, we will prioritise mass media channels based on ease of access:
ACTIVITY TASK 1: Answer the following questions (the task is to help you identify media houses you are familiar with)
• Do you read Newspapers?
• Which Newspaper do you read?
• How many Newspaper publishers are you familiar with?
• Which do you think is the most read Newspaper in Nigeria?
• Which is the Newspaper House closest to your community?
• Do you know any journalist?
• Have you previously contacted a Newspaper Editor?
• Have you published a newspaper article on your community?
• Have you organised or attended a press conference in your community?
• Have you attended a press conference outside your community?
• Do you listen to the radio?
• Which is your favourite radio station?
• What radio stations do you tune in for the News?
• Which are Radio Stations within Iru/Victoria Island?
• Which do you think is the most popular radio station?
• Do you have the address and contact information of Radio Station?
• Who is our favourite news anchor?
• Who is your favourite on-air personality (OAP)/presenter?
• What is your favourite radio show?
• Do you have any contact details of radio producers and presenters?
• Do you know any on-air personality (OAP)/presenter?
• What is your favourite radio advert?
• Have you ever phoned-in to contribute to a radio programme?
• Have you been interviewed on Radio?
• Have you spoken about our community on radio?
• Do you watch TV?
• Which is your favourite TV station?
• How many TV stations are you familiar with?
• What stations do you watch the News?
• Which TV Stations are within Iru/Victoria Island?
• Which do you think is the most popular TV station?
• Do you have the contact information of local TV Stations?
• What is your favourite TV programme?
• Who is your favourite broadcaster?
• Who is your favourite TV host?
• What is your favourite TV advert?
• Do you have any contact details of TV producers and presenters?
• Do you know any TV producer or presenter?
• Have you ever phoned-in to contribute on a TV programme?
• Have you been interviewed on TV?
• Have you spoken about your community on TV?
ACTIVITY TASK 2: Create a media register or directory
Drawing from your response to the questions above make a list of the newspaper, radio and television media houses you are familiar with, these will serve as your first point of call in establishing a media relationship.
ACTIVITY TASK 3: Research other media outlets that reach a diverse audience
• Who do you want your message to get to?
• Are you targeting the Local Government?
• Are you targeting the State Government?
• Are you targeting the Federal Government?
• Are you targeting State Lawmakers (State House of assembly members representing your constituencies)?
• Are you targeting Federal Lawmakers (senators and House of representative members representing our constituencies)?
• Do you want your issues to be discussed locally?
• Do you want to reach an international audience?
• Are you targeting development agencies and civil society?
• Are you targeting human right and civil liberties organisations?
If your answer is yes, then make a list of local and international media organisations that relate to your community issues.
ACTIVITY TASK 4: Do a research on your target media contacts. Check the newspapers for Full name, title, emails address postal address and phone numbers of editors. You can also pay a visit to the Newspaper houses, this maybe a good opportunity to meet with reporters and editors to discuss your community projects.
Listen to radio and TV programmes and take note of the contact details of the presenter and producer. Then do a follow-up by calling, texting or emailing to arrange a physical meeting.
If you have access to the internet you can access most of the contact information of local and international media organisations online.
Now that you have created your media register, let us discuss how to engage journalists and other media personalities on our list and effectively use them for our community advocacy work.
• Before you contact a journalist make sure you do your homework.: research on the kind of stories they publish in the newspaper and if they run radio or TV programmes that attract your target audience.
• To establish and sustain media relationships you need to show that you have information that is newsworthy.
• Use the public information you accessed in the newspaper, website, radio and TV programme to make your first contact. You may be directed to a Journalist who works on your interest.
• Be prepared and have your issues well-constructed. Be clear and precise as journalists have tight schedules.
• Bear in mind that most Journalists may not have time for a lengthy conversation, so be polite and considerate as they may sound impatient, just remain focused on the purpose of your call.
• When contacting, a journalist introduce yourself, your community development association(CDA) and briefly describe your project and respond to following questions if any.
• Remember, keep it simple, there are other people with similar request
• Ask them if they will like to receive further information on your community; what time is best to make contact and their preferred means of communication.
• Have your writing pad handy to take note of comments, details, additional requests and any other relevant information discussed during the phone call or physical meeting for future references.
• Update our media directory with contact details of journalist you have engaged.
• Maintain your established media relationship by following up with a thank you message, introduce your organisation so that the Journalist could easily relate to your previous discussion.
• Get in touch if there is a new development in your community.
• Give feedbacks when Government, organisations and other stakeholders act on the news story about your community, to show you appreciate their support. This will keep your community in the news and draw more attention to your issues
• DO NOT contact them with unnecessary information such as WhatsApp spam messages, jokes and other irrelevant messages. Stick to messages about your community advocacy, projects, meetings and other related activities
• Respect the relationship you have established, do not bombard your media contacts with calls as this will put them off, let them value you as a source for information
• Lastly be timely. Send the information to the journalist as soon as the request is made. If you delay in sending your story it may not be published as media houses receive a lot of information that needs to be prioritised.
Planning a Successful Media Advocacy Campaign
In deciding to do a media advocacy campaign, we need to consider what we are looking to achieve through media advocacy and how we will work with the media to achieve our aims. We need to decide and be clear about the message we want to send out by gathering ideas from community member to ensure that we are campaigning for a cause that we all identify with.
• What MESSAGE do we want to send out?
• Who are our target audiences?
• What do we hope to achieve with the advocacy campaign?
• Which approach will best suit our goals?
• Which of the Mass media is most suitable for our campaign?
• How do we respond to reactions to or campaign?
Once we have thought out our objective for the media campaign, we can now develop key messages that include: The problem the campaign is addressing, the solution we propose and the action our target audience can take to solve the problem.
Tips to consider in Organising a Successful Media Campaign
• Summarise your media campaign key messages, capturing the Problem, solution and action in not more than four sentences.
• The campaign team should be consistent with the key messages and members should be able to speak on the subject at any point. It is very Important that we all speak in one voice; this also shows how organised we are in seeking solutions to our community issues
• Choose the right timing for your campaign. One way to do that is tying your media campaign to International awareness days e.g June 5, World Environment Day, April 25 World Malaria Day etc.
• You can also relate your News story or topic events around the world. This shows the media the relevance of your story to current National and Global issues, this will give your story an edge over other stories
• Create an event calendar for your media campaigns, choose dates that will give your story meaning and mileage
• Avoid contacting Journalists during busy period when there are big stories, chances are your stories will not be featured or may not get the attention of your target audience because of the big news in town
• Send your stories before the editorial deadlines.
Delivering Your Campaign to the Media
The success of our Media Advocacy campaign is dependent on how well we plan. We will discuss the four major communication channels use in media to enhance our communication skills.
A press Statement is a write-up used for presenting information to the media about your organisation. It is mostly used to break news, circulate information, state your organisation’s stand on an issue and generally publicise a story. Press Statement gives you control on what you want to say, however, it is best to stick to the key message and keep it brief as Media houses often edit the content before publishing.
Tips for Writing a Press Statement
• Write the name of your CDA and logo, date and contact details of community Media representative for further information.
• Write the Headline -choose a very captivating headline that reflects the main message, written in CAPITAL letters.
• Sub-headline – this is a second headline that gives brief information on the press statement
• Lead Paragraph- This is the first paragraph that presents the key message of the press release
• Main Body – Gives details about the issues
• Quotation- At least one quote from community leaders or stakeholder
• Conclusion- This should contain the proposed solution and a call to action
• Closing line- A brief description of the organisation
An interview is a used to gather information from a key informant. During an interview, a journalist asks question from a source to gather different viewpoints. Media interviews is an opportunity for you to discuss your community issues and respond to questions about possible solutions and call to action.
Tips for a Media Interview
• Prepare for the interview. what message do you want to share through the interview?
• Write down the key points you want to discuss during the interview
• Give facts and figures to back your response
• Research on the interviewer and previous interviews conducted
• Anticipate questions from the Journalist, using previous interviews as a guide. Practice your response to tough questions about your organisation
• Organise a mock interview with a community member and rehearse your practice questions
The Press Conference
A press conference is a meeting arranged by an organisation to share information to members of the press. The organiser makes a statement about the organisation and then respond to questions from journalists. Press conferences are often used to make a major announcement about an organisation.
Broadcast Media – Radio and Television
Broadcast media are used to reach larger and more diverse audience, including those who have low literacy levels or who live in isolated areas. In other to draw attention to our community issues;
• we will need to use Broadcast media to reach both local and international audience.
• Research on Radio and TV programs that discuss social issues, phone-in and make contributions on the talk shows.
• follow-up with the presenter or producer after the show for an opportunity to discuss about issues affecting your community your programme on a live show.
• Also, invite TV and Radio stations to cover News features during major events in your community.
• Include local and international broad cast stations to get our messages to global decision makers and the rest of the world
Activity: Create a database of Radio and TV shows
Social Media and Online Tools for community Organizing
Now that we have explored how to use traditional media for community organising. Will we will now discuss modern tools used in advancing social good. Some of our community members especially the youth are familiar with social media tools, we will discuss how they can be used to organise and reach out to a larger audience and support base for our community project.
Social Media tools have its place in Community organising but it is important to note that it cannot replace conventional media and in-person relationships. The followings are reasons why we should use Social media for our organising:
1. Keeping in touch with our audience and making new supporter base (followership)
2. Creating awareness about our initiatives
3. For sharing our story; getting people to connect, relate and share in our dreams
4. Reaching a global audience
5. An easy and fast way of getting information to many people
6. Connecting with key influencers including Govern men, local and international decision makers, Donors, NGOs, CSOs and other interest groups
7. For fundraising and crowd funding for our community projects
8. It has a multiplier effect as other followers can share what
9. To Engage and get feedbacks from our community through opinions polls and online surveys
10. For calling people to take action through online petitions
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS USE IN COMMUNITY ORGANISING & ADOCACY
• Facebook: used for sharing our story, informing our audience about what we are doing and get feedbacks from our audience. We can create a facebook page for our Community to reach people outside or network who may be interested in supporting what we do
• Twitter: This also a good too for reaching local and Global influencers and decision makers who may be interest in supporting our work. We can create a Twitter account and follow development organisations, CSOs, Politicians and other influencers. We can also convey our messages using Hashtags (#) with key themes to reach audience who share in our interest
• YouTube: This is a good tool for sharing our story using videos to get the outside world to have a glimpse of our struggles, needs, priorities and the actions we are taking to address or community issue. It is a good campaign too for getting the message loud and clear.
• Instagram: This is another story telling tool that uses pictures and short videos to communicate our identity and engage our audience
Using Instant Messaging for Community Mobilising and Information Sharing
In addition to the discussed social media tool we can use instant messaging to reach community members and people in our network. This Channels allows us to create groups and serves as a less expensive means to communicate to members of or community. Popular instant messaging play forms include
2. Blackberry Messenger
3. Facebook Messenger
4. Google Chat
Other Online Tools
1. Email: Social media is a good means of engaging our audience, however, the email is a used to engage in formal communication with our supporters and influencers; we can also use it to inform our contacts of our activities. Our publicity committee can keep an email lists of supporters and other stakeholders to share information from time-to-time.
2. Blog: This is a good way of sharing our stories to a wide-reaching audience; and keeping our audience informed about activities and getting them to engage by commenting and asking questions thereby increasing the traffic on the blog. This cold potential generate income for the community through digital advertising.
3. Websites: A website is also a way of sharing information about our activities and engaging a wider audience
4. Crowd Funding Platforms: this are site used in raising funds for our projects from a larger number of people who contribute money to support our work. Popular platform is the GoFundme , it may be worth creating an account to fundraise for your community project
5. Online Polls: This is a good way of getting feedbacks and contributions from your audience and as a result raise awareness about your community issues. Example of online polls include google forms and Survey Monkey.
6. Online Petitions: This is another good advocacy too for reaching decision makers; creating awareness of your issues and calling them on people to act. Petitions are commonly used to engage Government and law makers to act on an issue
I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.