There are a lot of ways to get your story told in the media, and they're easier to accomplish than you might imagine.
Write a letter to the editor.
The Buffalo News, for example, welcomes letters of up to 250 words. Include your name, address and phone number (they will call to verify if they are going to print it), provide a title, and email it to LetterToEditor@buffnews.com. In writing it, think about the readers you hope to persuade. What will make them want to read past the first few lines? Tools to help: Tips For Writing Letters to the Editor & Sample Letter to the Editor
Write an opinion piece.
The Buffalo News Another Voice column is open to people with some level of expertise in their topic. Your column can be up to 460 words and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The My View column is for more personal stories, but you might well have a personal story that also makes a good point about public policy. That column can be up to 600 words and should also be sent to email@example.com. Tools to help: How to Write a Good Op-Ed, Sample Op-Ed, Another Voice Tips.
Send a press release.
If you are doing an event that you would like the press to attend, send out a media advisory: a one-page document that tells the press who, what, where, when, and why. Include your name, phone number, and email as a contact. If you have a story to tell, then send a press release. A press release should be written just like a newspaper story so that the newspaper could run it as a story with few or no changes. Include quotes from real people affected by the issue. It is fine to draft quotes for people, as long at they read and approve them before you send out the release. Send your advisory or release to all the local media; you can download a media list here. Tools to help: Writing a Good Press Release, Sample Long Press Release, Sample Short Press Release, Sample Media Advisory.
Hold a press conference.
This is much easier than most people think. Simply send a media advisory to the press letting them know that you will be holding a press conference. If possible, choose a location that has good visual appeal for photographs and TV footage, that means something to your issue, and that is conveniently located. Have a small number of speakers, each speaking for five minutes or less, and then take questions. Make sure you know exactly what each speaker will say, and that their messages combine to tell your full story. Hand out a press release at the event, and, afterward, send your release to all the media who were not able to attend. If no press show up, don't worry; no one will ever know! And if just one media outlet covers your story, you will have had success.
Request an editorial board meeting.
Editorial boards of newspapers are willing to meet with people who have expertise on community issues. These meetings help determine what the paper's position will be on a certain topic and can lead to editorials that help your cause. To request an Editorial Board meeting with the Buffalo News, email Dawn Bracely (firstname.lastname@example.org). Explain very briefly who you are, what your issue is, and why it matters. Here is a helpful Primer on Editorial Board Meetings.