Dr Karina Zeidler, a white woman with long grey hair, wears a print dress and an N95 mask. She is being interviewed by a CityNews 1130 reporter who holds a camera and microphone, wearing headphones, a press badge and a surgical mask. The crowd around them all wear N95s, some holding signs.

Last updated: March 13, 2024

As activists, one of our big goals is to get our message out there. In pursuing that goal (and working to hold institutions to account), journalists have the potential to be important allies.

If you’re new to media relations, read on to find some ways that you can share your story with the press.

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Pitching your story  |  How to write  |  How to contact  |  Other options | Further considerations


Pitching your story

To contact journalists and media outlets, you will need:

  • a pitch letter – these days it’s usually just a short email;
  • a press release (also called a media release) – a brief official statement about your story or event;
  • optional but helpful: a media kit (press kit) to make journalists’ jobs easier – this includes any supporting materials such as photos, fact sheets, or speaker bios.

The usual process is to email your pitch letter + press release to see who’s interested in your story or to invite reporters to your event. For “breaking news” like a protest, you can do this 24-48 hours in advance; for other events or stories, more notice is better (such as 3 weeks).

Additionally, some journalists are also reachable on social media.

How to write

For pitch letters, keep it succinct; link to your full press kit if you have one. Use our pitch letter templates to get started!

For press releases, format it like a mini-article, with a headline at the top and some quotes in the body text. There are several formatting conventions for press releases; use our template to make it easy! (Be sure to read the comments.)

For media kits, we encourage including photos if you can. For public health advocacy, it can also be useful to include a fact sheet with references, to ensure accurate information is being shared. Check out some of our past press kits as examples.

Remember to consider accessibility and inclusive framing! Check out our top tips for more accessible communications, especially in the context of COVID-19.

How to contact

Find media contact information on the website of each outlet. Email addresses or contact forms will probably be on the Contact or Staff page, or a page called the “Masthead” (which lists all the staff).

Send your pitch email with the press release underneath, in the body of the email. (Don’t use attachments – they can get caught in spam filters.) You can use the headline of your press release as the email subject line. If you have a full press kit, include a link. (Don’t send it as an attachment.)

The best time to contact reporters is usually early business hours on weekdays; the precise day depends on that outlet’s deadlines. Try to avoid the very end of the week if you can (such as end-of-day Friday).

Other ways to get in the media

Having trouble getting journalists to bite – or want to be in control of your own story? There are other ways to get your story in the news!

  • Submit an op-ed or personal essay. Either write it in advance, or contact press outlets to see if they’d be interested in your writing a piece for them. There are many outlets that may publish op-eds, such as The Tyee, the Georgia Straight, CBC and Rabble.ca.
  • Write a letter to the editor. These are often short, and a good option for people who don’t have the capacity to write a longer op-ed.

Further considerations

For media campaigns, it can be useful for one or more people to act as a media spokesperson, or to find out in advance who may be open to doing interviews. Make sure these people are aware of key messages you wish to convey.

Depending on the outlet, it may be possible to do remote appearances by phone or Zoom, or to accept only written interviews (where they email the questions and you send back answers). For tv, radio, podcasts or documentaries, it may be possible to get the questions in advance.

Note that on occasion, unverified people may claim to be members of the press (e.g. to gain access). Verifying a journalist’s outlet or platform is recommended.

Not every action requires a media campaign. The level and timing of publicity should depend on your goals (public engagement versus privacy) and your risk assessments (such as Covid risks of mass gatherings or levels of counterprotester activity).

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