Reports & Toolkits

Effective Coronavirus (COVID-19) Communications for Your County: Amplify Your Message Through the Power of the Media

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    Effective Coronavirus (COVID-19) Communications for Your County: Amplify Your Message Through the Power of the Media

    As county leaders, our residents are looking to us more than ever during these uncertain times for information that directly affects their lives. Local leaders like you across the country are taking to the airwaves and print to let residents know the latest information on COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects, testing information, details on vaccine distribution and information on local economic recovery efforts.

    How do you get this important information out the masses? One of the most effective ways is through media relations. And media relations is not just a luxury of large counties with a dedicated communications staff. All counties, regardless of size, can hold virtual press conferences, media tours of county facilities and programs, and effectively pitch reporters, editors and producers.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Hold a virtual press conference with your county’s public health director, county commissioners and small business owners to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and what your county is doing to mitigate the public health and economic crisis
    • Offer a virtual tour for reporters of your public health department and the coronavirus vaccine rollout
    • Hold a virtual tour of non-COVID related county programs and work to show county business goes on and we will serve our residents in these unprecedented times
    • Issue a press release on how your county is investing federal coronavirus relief funding

    Top-Level Messaging

    • America needs frontline heroes and services at the county level to win the war against COVID-19.
    • This is investment in frontline heroes, not county governments.
      (Find more talking points on our frontline heros in NACo's We Are Counties campaign.)
    • Investing in counties means investing in people and places – saving lives and restoring livelihoods.
    • Direct federal aid to counties of all sizes affirms a strong federal-state-local partnership and is an investment in counties on the front lines and a commitment to defeating this pandemic together
    • We can’t get back to normal without winning the public health fight.

    Resources to Get Started

    NACo is here to help with tools and resources for you to effectively amplify your message through local media coverage. Below you will find sample media advisories and press releases from NACo coronavirus media calls with county leaders, virtual press conferences and press releases as well as NACo’s Media Relations Guide for Counties, which was developed to assist county officials in strengthening their communications skills to improve local media coverage.

    Media Relations Guide

    The NACo Media Relations Guide assists county officials in strengthening their communications skills to improve local media coverage, and includes resources on traditional tools, social media, crisis communication and more.

    • Access the Guide

    Press Release and Op-Ed Templates

    • Press Release Template
    • Press Conference Conference Media Advisory Template
    • Op-Ed Template

    Hosting a Virtual Press Conference

    Web-based press conferences on platforms like Zoom are a great way to help place a good sound bite on the air. To refine your virtual meeting, some tips to remember include:

    • Optimize your camera placement and lighting, and strive to maintain eye contact with the camera. Click here for more of our recommendation for setting up your video.
    • Utilize built-in registration forms, or use your own, in order to have a record of attendance and enable quicker follow up once the press conference has ended
    • Be sure to mute all participants, and consider asking members of the media to type their questions into the chatbox or use the 'raise hand' button, and be sure to utilize the waiting room or passcode functionality to prevent uninvited attendees from participating
    • Engage with attendees and your larger audience on social media during the event. Find more on social media below.

    Using Social Media

    Media relations are an effective way of getting your message to your residents, but it is only part of the solution. Social media is a quick and easy way to reach your residents as well as a great way to amplify news coverage you get through your media relations efforts. Here are a few tips and resources to get started:

    • Share on social media links to watch press conferences, town halls and virtual tours
    • Live tweet during your virtual events and engage with those watching live
    • Share photos and video clips after your events
     
    As county leaders, our residents are looking to us more than ever during these uncertain times for information that directly affects their lives.
    2021-01-06
    Reports & Toolkits
    2021-06-03

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