Revised with new information as of May 02, 2016

A free resource for nonprofit organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations,
public sector organizations, and other mission-based agencies

Jayne Cravens,

Creating A Guide to Media / List of Outreach Points for Your Org
& Monitoring Media Coverage

One of the very first things I do when I start a job where outreach and/or community engagement are part of my responsibility is to start compiling a media guide: a list of local newspapers, local radio stations, international radio programs that might cover the area where I'm working, local TV stations, international TV
programs that might cover the area where I'm working, reporters in the area working for international press (stringers), and bloggers with a large readership. I also compile a list of large local nonprofits/non-governmental organizations (NGOs), regardless of their focus, local NGOs focused on the same issues as the organization I am associated with, and local affiliations of international NGOs, as well as government programs that are somehow related to the mission of the organization where I'm working and key government officials.

Postal mailing addresses and phone numbers are kept in a spreadsheet or other kind of database. Email addresses are kept in the same database, as well as within whatever email client I'm using. I also create Twitter lists of these different outreach points, if they have Twitter handles, within a Twitter account the organization will keep when I'm gone; I may or may not make each list public, depending on the list nature. For instance, if I have a Twitter list called "negative", and it's a list of media outlets, bloggers and others that are repeatedly, even relentlessly critical of the organization or cause, that list is going to be private. But I need to have such a list, so I can monitor what they are saying.

Media monitoring

In the 20th Century, before the Internet became widespread, such media guides were often compiled and sold - by a local newspaper, by a nonprofit, even by a phone company. But now, these ready-made guides are hard to find, so you have to DIY (do it yourself). So, in that respect, it's gotten much harder to map and maintain a media guide. But here's the good news: it's MUCH easier to monitor media coverage than it used to be!

There was a time when you had to pay big bucks for a media monitoring service, which would have paid staff members read mountains of newsprint, looking for your organization's name. The staff were trained in such a way that they might miss articles that quoted your executive director, but didn't name your organization. They wouldn't see opinion pieces that talked about the issues your program addresses if those pieces never named your organization.

Now, media monitoring is oh-so much easier, via free tools like GoogleAlerts. You will want to monitor the name of your organization via its full, exact name and via all the other names used, even if a name is incorrect. You will also want to monitor the name of the head of your organization. You may also want to search for the name of a high-profile event you are coordinating, or a partner organization with which you work freely. You can set up these alerts so that you receive an alert, via email, the moment the system finds the article, or once a day, or once a week.

If there is an exact phrase you wanted searched, put the phrase in quotes. For instance, I don't have an alert for volunteering, and I don't have an alert for virtual, but I do have an alert for "virtual volunteering." If your organization's leader has a name that is not unique - such as John Williams, you will want to add more to the search term so that you get info only for YOUR John Williams. So, for instance, if you are in Kabul, Afghanistan, your search term should be "John Williams" and Kabul.  

Here are some of the terms I have in my GoogleAlert:

Take the time to read

Even with all this automation, you still have to take time to READ. You need to read the alerts as they come in. You will need to take time to look at your Twitter lists and see what the media and other organizations are saying. This takes real time. Put a reoccuring time on your calendar for you to take the time to do this review at least weekly; put it on your shared calendar, so colleagues won't schedule you for meetings at that time, and have your instant messenger app show you as busy.

You are never done

You are never done with putting together your media guide or to setting up your automated media monitoring. Publications and bloggers will come and go, stringers will be replaced, Twitter accounts will be abandoned and new ones will rise up...  

Also see


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