Office of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships
Wake Tech's Office of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships works to strengthen relationships with local, federal and state legislative delegations and executive agencies as well as local elected officials, to enhance their understanding of the college’s contributions, and to improve our competitiveness for new projects and appropriations. It also keeps Wake Tech's leadership informed of developments in legislation and policy likely to affect college operations and budgets. The Office follows a wide range of legislative issues, including financial aid, grants and research, campus safety, technology, and immigration.
The Office also seeks to inform the conversation by facilitating visits to campus by legislators and staff, participating in state and national forums, making gathering spaces available for hosting events across our campuses, and serving as a resource to law and policymakers who represent our service area. Federal and state levels of government, agencies, business and industry, the general public, and the K-20 pipeline are key community partners in our efforts to develop and cultivate partnerships that support and advance the goals and objectives of the college.
This office is oftentimes the starting point for new business collaborations, including philanthropy, work-based learning/apprenticeships, advisory boards and requests for speakers and academic collaborations.
With 20 state and federally elected representatives within the boundaries of Wake County, the Office of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships works hard to cultivate meaningful relationships that advance college priorities within the government and the community at large.
How to Get Media Coverage
Would you believe that getting press coverage is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to increase your brand awareness?
The free publicity through media coverage can be priceless. Think about it. Businesses have gone from obscurity to household names with the right press coverage. For example, a coveting spot on “Oprah’s Favorite Things” can be life changing!
So what is the secret to obtaining media coverage? The good news is – there is no secret. Follow these simple steps and you will be heading down the right path.
Identify the right media contact(s):
Identifying the right media contact is the first step to securing press coverage. There are countless media outlets in this digital world, so it is critical to find the one that speaks to your audience. Ask yourself what media outlet best serves your brand? Is it mainstream media or a trade publication? Find out where your audience lives and go there.
How to approach a media outlet:
The best way to approach a media contact is directly. Media outlets received countless emails from people looking for exposure, so you need to do more than send an email to a general mailbox to get attention. Do some work. Research the organization to identify the appropriate contact person for the coverage consideration. Pick up the phone and call that person or send them a direct message through social media. If you can find out their cell number, send them a text. In other words, take the side door verses the front door!
How to determine what’s newsworthy:
Newsworthiness can be subjective. As a news reporter, I was always surprised that what Editors would find newsworthy would change from day to day.
Here are some boxes you typically need to check for coverage consideration:
- Relevant - Does your story tie into a topic that is current?
- Impact - Does your story have the potential to impact a large amount of people? What is the audience impact?
- Unusual - Does your story have the ability to stop people in their tracks? Is it considered breaking news?
If your story has the ability to inform, educate or amuse, it may have what it takes to make headlines.
How to communicate with the media/press:
Relationships with journalists and publishers can help you obtain news coverage. Reach out to a reporter at a news station or a managing editor at a publication, and ask what type of story ideas they looking for, and how they prefer to receive story ideas.
Reporters are often expected to pitch story ideas at daily editorial meetings. Your story idea can make their job easier, and they like that!
If you are looking for news coverage, ask for it well in advance. Sending a press release one week in advance is ideal for mainstream news outlets, but other publications may require a longer lead time. Once you make initial contact with a call or press release, remember to follow up, multiple times if necessary. A quick call on the morning of your event also doesn’t hurt. Remember, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get coverage, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Be sure to reach out to multiple media outlets. Finally, the best time of day to contact a media outlet is in the morning (never call during news time or in the afternoon when deadlines are looming).
What to do/say when you get the interview:
Always say yes to media coverage. As a reporter, it amazed me when a businesses or organizations would turn down the opportunity to go on camera. Granted, the ask would often occur at the last minute, due to the nature of local news. Bottom line, the opportunity to receive free press doesn’t come often - so when the media calls - answer!
Once you do get an interview, prepare and practice. Focus on the key points you want to make during the interview. Media outlets don’t usually provide the questions in advance, so craft your answers around the typical reporter questions - the 5W’s and 1H - who, what, when, where, why and how. You don’t want your answers to be scripted. Instead, write down a few bullet points that you can reference. Be clear, concise and to the point. We live in a soundbite world, so it’s not likely that your interview will be shared in its entirety. Most importantly be yourself!
PS…Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a response at your first go around. As the old adage goes, it first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Don’t assume that they aren’t interested in your story, if you don’t hear back. Your contact may have missed your initial communication or multiple communications. Be persistent, without being a pain, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to get media coverage.
Sloane Heffernan is an Emmy Award winning journalist and longtime reporter at WRAL-TV. Sloane recently stepped out from in front of the camera to launch Storymore. Storymore works with businesses to clarify their message and bring their unique stories to life with click-worthy digital content. Sloane’s Storytelling Bootcamps will turn your marketing team into master storytellers. Sloane will also provide storytelling skills “to-go” as a keynote speaker at your next event or conference.