Work with the media must be planned and organized deliberately. Supportive coverage of the campaign and its messages in the press, on radio and TV, and by web-based news providers can enhance campaign visibility, broaden its audience and lend added credibility to the message.
Campaigners distinguish between “placed” and “earned” media coverage. Placed media, for example newspaper advertisements or public service announcements, are produced by the campaign or by a specialized organization, e.g. a public relations (PR) agency hired for the purpose by the campaign team. Placed media are normally paid for, but many campaigns on social issues have successfully mobilized pro bono support from major public relations agencies and mass media (see also Fundraising in this module). The advantage of placed media is that the campaign team retains virtually full control of the way in which the message is presented. However, designing effective advertisements and buying advertisement space or “airtime” demands considerable resources. This also applies to placed ‘news’ – it is common practice to hire PR firms for highly visible placement in news media, through opinion pieces (op-eds), pitched interviews, editorials, etc.
Earned coverage is media coverage produced by journalists, or a free contribution submitted by the campaign (e.g. letters to the editor, open editorials) that the media outlet may accept to publish. One does not need to pay for earned media coverage, but time and skills must be invested to develop constructive relationships with journalists, and guide them towards supportive, gender-sensitive reporting. See also Tools in Earned Media Coverage in this section.