Generating Media Coverage

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How can we generate more media coverage? This training explores earned news coverage in the media (articles, TV and radio interviews) which mentions our organization and CCL's work (beyond LTEs, op-eds and editorials) and reviews strategies for generating news coverage with your local chapter and the support of CCL's national communications team.
TOC and Guide Section
Defining news coverage

In most media outlets, “opinion” journalism and straight “news” reporting are totally separate.

A lot of CCL’s media work takes place on that opinion side: volunteers write LTEs, publish their own op-eds, and work to generate editorial endorsements from a newspaper’s editorial board. All of those types of media appear in the opinion pages of a newspaper.

But the “news” side is where you find articles researched and written by reporters. At a TV or radio station, you’ll see and hear segments where journalists interview sources and report on the story.

This training discusses how to generate stories about CCL that fit into the “news” category: written articles, as well as segments on TV or radio.

Why to pursue news coverage

Gaining news coverage is a powerful tool to highlight to members of Congress that climate is an increasingly urgent issue.

And the good news is what we do is newsworthy.

CCL has hundreds of chapters in nearly every congressional district across America — and our advocacy has ensured a carbon fee and dividend is now a popular solution being discussed by Congress.

As the national conversation around climate change continues to grow with heightened public attention around this issue, there are ample opportunities to reach out to local reporters about the work you're doing in your community, and the legislation we support, so they can cover it in the news.

How to alert media to your story

The media can only cover what they’re aware of, so you need to make sure the media in your area know about the story you want them to cover. Sending a press release is the most typical way to do that. Reporters are used to receiving these.

A press release will always include a few standard elements:

  • A strong headline to immediately tell them what the story is about (include the key message).
  • The basic information about the story you’re “pitching” to the reporter (asking them to write about). If you’re pitching a story about an event, for example, be sure to include the name of the event, the location, the number of people you expect to be there, and the purpose of the event. If you're offering someone as a spokesperson for an interview, share information about that person's expertise, their activities with CCL, etc.
  • The date, so the reporter knows the information is new and fresh, and that they’re free to write about it immediately.
  • Contact information. Include the name of a local CCL volunteer along with a contact email and phone number so the reporter can easily reach out to learn more and to set up interviews. If you are the one sending out the press release, it's probably easiest to list yourself as the contact, so that you can manage incoming press requests. 

Those are the basics of a press release. To help take your press release from good to great, we also recommend that you: 

  • Keep it concise—usually not much longer than a page
  • Write in the third person—the style news stories are presented in the newspapers.
  • Include direct quotes (in the first person) from yourself, your group leader, or other local CCL volunteers as appropriate. If the reporter is on a tight deadline, they can just grab those quotes and drop them right into their story without having to conduct a new interview. When you make a reporter’s life easier, they’re even more likely to cover your story or come back to you for coverage in the future. Note that whoever is listed as the press contact does NOT have to be the same as the person quoted in your press release.
  • Include a photo if you’re sending your press release after an event and you have some good images to share. Write a caption for the photo—again to ensure there's less work for the reporter.
Press release templates from CCL

CCL offers press release templates to help you conduct this outreach. They are always available and refreshed periodically by CCL staff, so they’re a great starting point for your outreach. These templates are just a guide — feel free to tweak them as much as you need to fit your situation.

If you want to generate coverage on a topic other than those in the templates, you can feel free to use the templates as a guide to creating your own.

How to develop your local media list

Once you understand what goes in a press release, you may be wondering where to send it. 

We recommend that you develop your own local media list. Here’s how to do that:

  • Identify local media outlets. As a member of your community, you probably know your area’s primary newspaper, a few of the local TV news stations, and a radio station or two off the top of your head. You may even be aware of hyper-local outlets, such as a neighborhood magazine or an alt-weekly that publishes in your city. Write down all the ones you can think of. If you’d like, you can then supplement that list with a Google search.
  • Choose appropriate contacts. As we mentioned before, when you’re generating news coverage, you are not looking for contacts on the “opinion” side. Here, you’re looking for reporters or assignment editors. Specifically, you want to identify reporters who are covering climate change, energy, environment, local government, Congress, or even things like community interest stories or utilities. You could also identify the editors who oversee those reporters and topics. It will take a little research to identify who these contacts are. You may be able to tell from reading the paper or watching/listening to the news, but you may also need to get on the media outlet’s website to do a little digging. Look for their staff pages to see exactly what certain reporters are assigned to cover, or to identify the editors, who are usually less public than the reporters themselves.
  • Find contact information. When you have the names of the contacts you want, try to assemble as much direct contact information for them as you can—an email address and phone number would be ideal. Sometimes this will be listed on the media outlet’s website. Other times, you may need to call a general inquiry number for the media outlet and simply ask someone for Joe Smith’s email address, because you have a press release that you’d like to send to him. Note: A media outlet might have a general inbox for submitting news tips, something like You can certainly send press releases there too, but you will likely have better luck if you can identify a specific person to reach out to.
  • Follow them on Twitter. Social media can be another way to connect with reporters if you can’t find their contact information or if they aren’t responsive. Following a reporter on Twitter also gives you a better sense of what topics they’re focused on and when might be a good time to reach out to them. For more about that, check out our social media training on Interacting with Members of the Media.
When to send press releases

Now that you’re familiar with a press release and you know who you can send one to, let’s talk about opportunities and timing.

It’s a great time to send a press release when your chapter has:

  • A response to a local climate story or impact. 
  • An event coming up, like a regional conference, a Climate Advocate Training, a movie screening, and so on.
  • A human interest angle—perhaps about one of your volunteers.
  • A major endorsement, like a municipal resolution in support of carbon pricing, or an Energy Innovation Act endorsement from a prominent community member
  • Lobby meetings, like when volunteers travel to D.C. (Note: Never tell a reporter what a member of Congress or a staffer said in a lobby meeting. It's important we maintain the office's confidentiality. When speaking to press about lobbying, share only information from your side of the meeting: what you asked, what information you shared, etc. If the reporter presses you on the office's positions or response to your lobbying, simply say that you can't share specifics, but that they were gracious with their time, you appreciate the attention their openness to meeting with you, you're looking forward to continuing the conversation, etc.)
  • Praise for your member of Congress, like when they sign on as a cosponsor of the Energy Innovation Act or they join either the House or Senate Climate Solutions Caucus

You can give yourself multiple bites at the apple, in terms of timing. If you’re responding to timely news, act quickly as the news cycle moves fast. You could try sending a press release as early as two weeks in advance of your event or your lobbying, then again a few days before, and even again immediately after, when you can include photos and fresh quotes. Or if you’re promoting an endorsement or a good move by your member of Congress, reach out two or three times in the week following the news. 

Don’t be afraid to follow up on your outreach with a phone call and a short, friendly voicemail. If you don’t hear back after a few tries, though, you can safely assume they aren’t interested in that story, and you can move on.

Think about building relationships. Can you cultivate long-term, friendly connections with local reporters? Will a journalist agree to a Zoom call or meet for a coffee? Be a helpful and grateful resource for them. You can go straight to these contacts when big news happens about climate policy.

Next steps

After you have created your press release, sent it to your media contacts, and followed up as necessary, hopefully you’ll get a few interested reporters who want to cover your story.

They will likely want to set up an interview with you or someone else in your chapter. Find out more by attending the upcoming “Preparing for Media Interviews” training.

Once interviews are conducted and the reporter has put the story together, then the article will be published or the story will air. Congratulations! Your efforts resulted in thousands more people hearing about climate solutions and CCL’s work.

Be sure to log the success in the Action Tracker using the appropriate category: article, TV, or radio. This way CCL staff is aware of the coverage and can celebrate your success with you. 

You might also want to share the coverage with any CCL liaisons in your chapter, so they can make sure your member of Congress sees the coverage. 

Also, you and other chapter members can share your media success on social platforms, so that you get even more mileage out of the coverage.

More support

Does your chapter have at least one “media manager” designated? A media manager receives regular communication from CCL’s Communications staff about media opportunities, including opportunities to generate local media coverage. Staff also offers media managers one-on-one support when needed. 

Reach out to State & Local Media Coordinator Charlotte Ward ( if you would like to be a media manager for your chapter. 

You can also stop by the Media Relations forum anytime to ask questions and seek support. 

Press play to start the video (28m 50s)
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To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intros & Agenda
(from beginning)

What is news coverage?

How to alert media to your story

How to develop a media list and pitch your story

Media Examples

  • Charlotte Ward

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Press play to start the audio (28m 50s)
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Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intros & Agenda
(from beginning)

What is news coverage?

How to alert media to your story

How to develop a media list and pitch your story

Media Examples

  • Charlotte Ward
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