Published: 22 April 2016

The key elements of a media strategy

When time, money and resources are tight, it’s important you understand what you want to achieve with your PR activities and why. Being strategic is vital as this will enable you to present a consistent message that is heard by the right people at the right time.


We have a more recent article looking at effective media strategies for charities. Find it here.


Working through the strategic pillars below before embarking on media activity will help you and your organisation decide what you want to achieve and why. It can also help remove duplication of effort, enable resources to be directed precisely where they are needed and avoid wasting time and money.

The strategic pillars are:

1. Objectives

What do you want to achieve and why? Do you want to raise awareness? Strengthen your reputation within a key area? Promote a fundraising campaign or petition? What does PR success look like to you and your organisation?

2. Target audience

Who do you want to talk to and why? There is no such thing as the general public so be specific about who it is you want to engage with and what their information needs are. This will allow you to target your PR activities accordingly.

3. Tone of voice

What kind of personality do you want to convey? Are you fun and energetic? Authoritative and serious? The impression you want to create among your target audience will help determine the type of media outlet you want to work with, what you want to say to them and how you say it.

4. Key messages

What do you want people to think, feel or do? Your key messages will help explain your organisation and what it does, why this is important and the difference you make. 

5. Content

Central to the success of your PR activity will be the quality of the stories you have to offer journalists. What case studies do you have? Do you have access to data that will help evidence your opinion or your work? 

6. Media training

Knowing what you want to say is one thing. Having a spokesperson who can communicate this clearly and concisely, particularly under times of pressure, is another. Media training can help iron out any creases. 

7. Crisis comms

Preparation is key if a crisis is to be averted or minimised. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and having a plan as to what to do if it all goes wrong, are essential to protecting your reputation.

8. Managing expectations

While you may understand the opportunities and challenges associated with PR, your senior management team and trustee board may not. Helping them to understand what is realistically achievable is important if you are to satisfy expectations.

9. Monitoring and evaluation

Knowing what worked and what didn’t will help you understand which areas of your strategy to change and to do more of. It will also provide you with valuable insight to build the case for future investment.

This article is an extract from Effective media relations for charities: what journalists want and how to deliver it by Becky Slack. Find out more about the book here

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Becky Slack, founder and managing director, Slack Communications

Becky is the founder and managing director of Slack Communications. She is the former deputy editor of Charity Times, editor of Professional Fundraising and publishing editor of Charity Insight magazines. Becky is also a member of the Understanding Charities Group.