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Dealing with the media

30 January 2007

Knowing how to use the media effectively is essential for campaigners. This can help raise awareness of an issue, win public support, and influence management or political decisions. Media coverage also lets UCU members and potential members know that the union is active around issues of concern to them.

As well as the general advice on dealing with the media on this page this section contains detailed advice on:
Getting the message across
Writing a press release

Local media coverage is fairly easy to obtain, particularly if you have a systematic approach. With a consistent approach you stand a good chance of getting an issue covered, being asked to comment and securing understanding when disputes arise. Do consult the national press team or regional office where necessary.

The media

  • Local newspapers (including free press)
  • Regional and national newspapers
  • Radio
  • Regional TV or cable programmes
  • Student press
  • Newsletters

It's useful to get to know your local media and the deadlines to which they work. It's no good issuing a press release to a local newspaper on Thursday morning if it's printed on Wednesday afternoon.

Look at the types of articles newspapers carry, whether they have letters and comment pages. Get to know what type of programmes, including phone-ins, the local radio stations run.

Draw up a mailing/contact list of your local media. You can find details in local telephone directories, or search a website listing most UK media at

What makes a good story?

Journalists are sent hundreds of press releases each day. It's vital that yours stands out from the others. Generally the media are interested in the unusual, success/failure, danger, celebrity, conflict and scandal. News is anything that someone may want to read or hear about as long as it grabs the attention in some way.

News is by definition new. However even an old story can be packaged to look new. The trick is to find a way of presenting your issue in a way which will make it interesting to the world outside.

The journalist's job is to find news. Your job is to hand it to them on a plate.

Tools you can use

  • News releases
  • Features and articles
  • Letters
  • Photo opportunities and stunts
  • Radio phone-ins
  • Interviews

See Getting the message across and Writing a press release for more guidance.

Help with dealing with the media

UCU's media team are happy to advise you on finding local media contacts, writing releases, giving interviews or dealing with difficult situations. Any of the team can help but you might find it useful to approach the one who deals mostly with a particular issue.

Last updated: 30 October 2020