As advocates and educators of home fire sprinklers, we continue to search for ways to help increase awareness about the importance and benefits of this life-saving technology. But as you likely know, getting positive attention from the media can sometimes prove challenging. So, in an age where the world is saturated with news and information, how can you break through the “noise” and find the most effective ways to communicate sprinkler messages to news outlets and reach the audiences that we know will benefit from our information?
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) recently hosted a “Speaking to the Media about Sprinklers” webinar, which included a presentation by Peg Paul, communications manager for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), who provided a wealth of information to help sprinkler advocates enhance their ongoing efforts.
According to Paul, start by identifying the type of media outlets that will best support your message and story. Between traditional print publications, online news outlets, social media platforms, and bloggers, there is a lot to choose from, but not all platforms work for all stories. By doing some research, you’ll be able to determine which outlets can best tell your story and put your messages into the right hands.
Paul also recommended the following:
- Keep track of media outlets and reporters. By following news sources and understanding the topics they cover, you can identify the kinds of stories and information they are looking for, when they want to be contacted, and how best to reach them.
- Provide tools and resources to help media outlets tell your story. While words are powerful, so are the materials that support your messages. Props and related tools help reporters tell the most accurate stories. Whether it’s a fact sheet with sources, talking points, b-roll, or props, media outreach tools provide legitimacy to your messages that reporters look for in storytelling.
- Think about the timing of your story. Finding the most effective angle and the right timing is key to successfully reaching the media with your story. For example, after a fatal or significant fire or a public hearing or meeting is a good time to provide the media with the facts they need to tell an accurate, compelling story.
What it all boils down to, said Paul, is that members of the media will become interested in a sprinkler story if they have good information supported by the right outreach tools. Having an media plan at the start can prove valuable as you navigate this journey.
For more information about working with the media and to find free home fire sprinkler resources you can use and share, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website and start your media outreach today!