Press relations are one of the most important tools at the disposal of community groups today. The news media reaches audiences that are beyond the range of traditional grassroots organizing techniques.
Corporations and government agencies know this and act accordingly. They employ highly-paid professional press relations officers. These are usually well-trained journalists who have been enlisted to `work the other side of the street' because of their knowledge of the business and contacts in it.
Few community groups can afford the services of professional media officers. They must therefore enlist and train their own. Although most groups understand the importance of press relations, they too often assign press liaison tasks to officers who have other duties, which are often perceived as being more important. So long as the development of media work is left at the bottom of the community group's list of priorities, its full public potential will remain unexploited.
This manual is designed as an aid to novice media officers for public interest groups. It is by no means an all-encompassing guide to the field, but it will impart a basic understanding of the tasks associated with the job.
The question of how your group intends to use this guide has been left open. The reasons for, and the nature of the press relations you wish to establish, should be defined by each organization to address its particular set of needs.