Overview of Earned Media Tactics

Media Outreach, Releases, Statements, Advisories and More

Earned media, like digital media, can provide meaningful channels for amplifying your message. However, unlike digital media, your ability to control your message (with the exception of op-eds and letters to the editor) is severely restricted in earned media. That is why having a solid understanding of the kinds of earned media tactics that are available to your campaign is so important. Using earned media tactics appropriately could result in accurate and consistent coverage of your campaign, which can contribute to a legislative or ballot victory.

Media Outreach Strategy 101: It’s a Relationship

Some think about their media outreach in a similar way that an organizer might think about their work with a voter — as a two-way relationship. To compel audiences to take a particular action — be it a voter or a reporter — consider how you might engage them for the duration of your campaign. For voters, an organizer grows that relationship from contacts in-person, over the phone, and online. Those contacts are extended over an arc of engagements like signing a petition, canvassing, or making a financial contribution. Some call this the “ladder of engagement.” The more actions a voter takes with you, the more likely they are to become a champion of your campaign.

In a similar way, this engagement with journalists might begin with a desk-side meeting to introduce yourself and your campaign, and grow over a period of time to include attending a press conference or, ultimately, regularly covering campaign milestones. Often in between these high-level interactions are day-to-day exchanges that aid reporters: fact checking, quick on-the-record comments, or a background interview. The bottom line is, as communications leads, your focus should be on cultivating these relationships to make your team is known as issue experts and generate consistent media interest in your work.

This guide provides an overview of a few tactics you should consider and how to use them.

Media Advisory

A media advisory is distributed to journalists to invite them to an upcoming event like a press conference, panel, or rally. Reporters will want to know what visual elements will be at the event. For rallies and press conferences, think about having large signs and an elevated stage. For a press conference, think about not only the speaker but whether you want supporters standing behind the speakers. Ask yourself whether the speakers and supporters that will be caught on camera represent the diversity of the constituents in your city or state.

Advisories are generally sent two but not more than three times in advance of the event to make sure key reporters see the invitation. As with other distributions to reporters, circulating an advisory early in the day is important and following-up with a phone call is critical.



January 11, 2016

Freedom Indiana to Host “Watch and React” Party for Gov. Pence’s “State of the State” Address

Free public event will take place at the Indianapolis Artsgarden on Tuesday night

INDIANAPOLIS ­­ Freedom Indiana, the statewide grassroots organization fighting to update existing Indianalaws against discrimination to include gay and transgender Hoosiers, will host a “watch and react” event tomorrow night where Hoosiers can gather in Downtown Indianapolis to hear what Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has to say during his annual “State of the State” address.
After months of silence on the issue, the Governor has promised that he will use the speech to share his thoughts on the issue and what action he believes should be taken in this legislative session, which ends in mid-­March.

“The Governor has an enormous opportunity on Tuesday to do the right thing and support protecting gay and transgender people in our state from being fired, denied housing or turned away from public spaces because of who they are or whom they love,” said Freedom Indiana campaign manager Chris Paulsen. “We want him to know we’re watching, and we hope he’s heard the message loud and clear that a majority of Hoosiers want to see this law updated to make our state a more safe and welcoming place.”

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Indianapolis Artsgarden, just a few blocks from the Statehouse, where Pence will be speaking. It is free and open to the public and media.

There will be a short speaking program at the Artsgarden before the Governor delivers his address, which will be broadcast on a large screen for attendees to watch. Freedom Indiana campaign staff will be available at the Statehouse after the speech for comment, as will attendees at the Artsgarden event.


“Watch and React” to the Governor’s “State of the State” address
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016
6:30 p.m. ET
Indianapolis Artsgarden
Intersection of Washington and Illinois Streets
Downtown Indianapolis

Press Release

A press release is a longer form write-up of your media event (rally, panel, forum etc.) Write your press release the way you would want the story published in the paper. That means including an interesting title, a timely peg, topline messages, essential quotes from your spokespeople, quick facts, and necessary but not overly-detailed background. The goal is to provide reporters with enough information so they can come to you for more detailed questions over the phone. Like a media advisory, follow-up with reporters with a phone call and provide any answers to questions they may have. Timing for a press release depends on the event but, in most cases, it can be sent soon after the event concludes or when news it publicly available.


January 11, 2016


Matthew Wilder, Phone: 617-504-1718, [email protected]

New England’s Professional Sports Teams Announce Support for Transgender Protections

Advertising giant Hill Holliday also in support of legislation

BOSTON – New England’s professional sports teams along with a nationally recognized advertising firm today announced their support for legislation currently before the state legislature that would provide explicit protections from discrimination in public places for transgender people in Massachusetts. The New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and TD Garden join the Boston Red Sox which announced its support of the bill in November. Also today, advertising giant Hill Holliday joined in making their support known. In all, nearly 200 businesses and organizations across Massachusetts now stand in support of the legislation.

“The ever expanding support of these major business and cultural institutions signals how mainstream and widely accepted the need for this critical legislation has become,” said Kasey Suffredini, Co-Chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Coalition. “Nearly 200 local businesses now agree, there is no place in our great Commonwealth for discrimination, and our legislature must act now to make that aspiration a reality.”

“We have worked hard since the legislature broke for recess in November to keep our momentum toward our goal strong,”said Mason Dunn, Co-Chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Coalition. “Today’s announcement shows that the calls to pass this legislation have not gone quiet and that the time for action is now.”

The Freedom Massachusetts Coalition also announced today that Carly Burton, a longtime political organizer, has been appointed to the role of campaign manager for the coalition. Burton helped lead the successful campaign in 2010 to pass statewide transgender discrimination protections as well as successful efforts to pass statewide LGBT anti-bullying protections and the nation’s first statewide commissions to address issues facing homeless LGBT youth and LGBT elders. In the role of Campaign Manager, Burton will oversee and manage the lobbying, communications, field and coalition work.

“I believe that no one should be discriminated against because of who they are, no matter what,” said Burton. “That is not what the Commonwealth stands for, nor is it what this country stands for. As a mother, I want my child to live in a state where she can be free to be who she is, regardless of her gender identity. This is not possible right now in Massachusetts. I want to change that.”

Currently, there is no explicit prohibition on discrimination against transgender people in public places in the Commonwealth. This includes parks, medical offices, restaurants and retail establishments. Equal treatment in employment, housing, K-12 education and credit has been law since 2012. Fourteen Mayors and town leaders from across the Commonwealth – including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll – have called on the legislation to be passed.

State Representatives Byron Rushing and Denise Provost and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz are lead sponsors of the bill (House Bill 1577/Senate Bill 735).

For more information, visit www.freedommassachusetts.org.

# # #

Freedom Massachusetts is the bipartisan campaign working to ensure all people in the Commonwealth are treated fairly and equally under the law.


Statements are sent in reaction to a breaking event that may not be a planned part of your campaign. A statement is a short, quotable comment attributed to a campaign spokesperson responding to a breaking event or announcement. These are helpful for reporters covering the event who want to include your take on the event but may not have time to have a one-on-one conversation with your spokespeople. To ensure your campaign’s viewpoint is included in coverage, statements should be released as soon as possible.


Angela Dallara | [email protected] | 646-430-3925 | www.FreedomForAllAmericans.org

Montana Governor Issues Executive Order Protecting LGBT State Employees

HELENA – In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order yesterday prohibiting discrimination against state employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The order strengthens an existing executive order that offered protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and adds new protections on the basis of gender identity.

Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, released the following statement:

“Governor Bullock’s executive order sends a powerful message that Montana is a welcoming place for LGBT people to work and thrive. By specifically adding protections for transgender people, the governor joins a growing number of Americans who believe people who are transgender should be treated fairly and equally in all aspects of life. Employees should be judged solely on their job performance and work ethic, not who they are or who they love. The legislature should take the final step and codify these protections permanently in state law.”

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

# # #

Editorial Backgrounders

Editorial backgrounders are long-form, report-like analyses of an issue, topic, or problem. Written in an objective, fact-based tone, backgrounders provide detailed information that helps reporters understand nuances of your campaign’s views on an issue. They also help fill in gaps for pieces that reporters are currently writing or plan to write in the future. More than anything, backgrounders help showcase your expertise on an issue and can jump start your recognition as the go-to source and thought leader on an issue. Release backgrounders with timely pegs and make sure that it is consistent with what a reporter covers.

Inclusion of Public Accommodations in LGBT Nondiscrimination Laws

Why labeling a nondiscrimination law a “bathroom bill” distorts the truth and misleads the public

January 12, 2016

The high-profile campaign over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance this past November illuminated an important point in efforts to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality: many Americans don’t fully understand what types of nondiscrimination protections are or aren’t already law, and why comprehensive protections are needed. This is especially true of protections in public spaces like hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, medical offices, parks, train stations and stores – spaces often referred to as “public accommodations.”

In 33 states, there still aren’t comprehensive laws ensuring that LGBT people can’t be fired, denied housing, or turned away from a public place simply for being who they are. As state legislatures begin reconvening, many of them will consider updating their existing nondiscrimination laws – which often already exist to protect constituents across categories such as disability and race – to include protections that extend to LGBT people. Public accommodation provisions in these laws are essential, but they’re also the portions most frequently seized upon by those opposed to extending protections to LGBT people.

From Kalamazoo, Michigan to Anchorage, Alaska, opponents scare and intentionally mislead constituents and lawmakers by thinly veiling their concerns as issues of privacy and safety. The most recent example is in Houston, where anti-LGBT campaigners referred to the city’s equal rights ordinance — which protected Houstonians in places of public accommodation not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but across 15 different categories, including race, gender, age and veteran status — exclusively as a “bathroom bill” and garnered media that bought into their inaccurate framing of the HERO ordinance without correcting the opposition’s misclassification. The reality is that nondiscrimination laws don’t change the fact that it’s already illegal to assault someone in a restroom or anywhere else.

Across the nation, 17 states, Washington D.C., and more than 200 cities and towns have already passed transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws that protect Americans from discrimination in public accommodations. There has been no uptick in public safety incidents in these cities and states. And there has not been a single documented instance in which a person committing sexual assault or harassment in a restroom was transgender or pretending to be transgender.

In fact, transgender people are more likely to be targets of violence and assault inpublic restrooms and in other public spaces. A report by the National Center for Transgender Equality showed that 53 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed in a place of public accommodation.

Transgender Americans, like all Americans, value privacy and security. Comprehensive nondiscrimination laws are about more than just restrooms. Dismissing them as a “bathroom bill” is misleading and ignores the important protections they provide in other areas of life. Nondiscrimination laws that include public accommodations make communities and businesses safer and more welcoming for all people.

Finally, fully including transgender people in all spaces, including restrooms and facilities, is at the heart of protecting anyone from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. If a law excludes men and women who are transgender from men’s and women’s spaces, that law subsequently treats transgender people as less than fully human. Denying a transgender person the ability to use the proper restroom is a rejection of their basic dignity and identity.

Starting this month, Freedom for All Americans is gearing up our legislative work in a number of priority states, including Indiana, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (where FFAA’s chief program officer, Kasey Suffredini, has served as a full-time chair, and in which a bill is pending that specifically addresses protections for transgender people in public accommodations). Nondiscrimination laws with explicit protections for LGBT people in public accommodations will make their lives better. Freedom for All Americans will continue amplifying the true profiles of LGBT people whose lives will be affected in a real way, and providing the crucial resources for journalists to tell the whole story.

Targeting your distributions

The kinds of distributions noted above (advisories, press releases, statements, and editorial backgrounders) are only as good as the list of journalists that they are sent to. It will do long-term damage to your campaign’s reputation if you send a release to a reporter that doesn’t cover LGBT equality. Some journalists will even flag your campaign’s future messages in a “do not read” box. And remember, too, that journalists network with each other — they share tips and releases among themselves. Being marked as junk by one reporter may mar your campaign among other journalists as well.

Before sending any distribution, it is enormously critical to know who you are sending it to, whether the topic is something they have covered before, and how they have covered this topic in the past. If a reporter is not interested in a pitch, ask them if there is another reporter at their outlet that might be interested in it. As you continue to generate media relationships, you will be able to identify a set of reporters you can rely on to be willing to talk about your pitches. There is never a guarantee that they cover it, but cultivating these relationships early-on and focusing on the key writers on these issues goes a long way toward being seen as a respected and trustworthy source.

Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor

Op-eds and Letters to the Editor (LTE) are some of the most widely-read pieces of content in print or online outlets. And unlike releases or statements, you have absolute control on the messages in op-eds and LTEs. Both are written by the campaign or a spokesperson and submitted for publication in a media outlet. Op-eds are longer-form pieces that give voice to a unique viewpoint or creative argument expressing support or opposition to legislation or a ballot initiative. Some of the best op-eds are authored by key influencers like prominent business or political leaders. They can also be written by everyday LGBT Americans, or allies of LGBT people who can tell a compelling personal narrative. An LTE, however, is written in response to a specific article previously published by that same outlet. These are much shorter than an op-ed, often around 100-200 words or less. LTEs provide pithy reactions to an article, perhaps conveying information or a perspective not included in the original reporting. They can also be positive LTEs that affirm good reporting. Generally, LTEs should be written by different community members.

Sample Op-Ed – As published in The Washington Post

Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.

America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.

I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.

Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

View PDF Version

[fbcomments url=""]