Creating Compelling Media Content

How to capture media attention when crafting stories for the press.

Table of Contents

STEPPS Framework

Photography & Videography

STEPPS Framework

One strategy framework for creating contagious media content is STEPPS. This framework, developed by Jonah Berger in his book Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age, outlines six principles that contribute to the shareability of content and what causes it to go viral. This framework can be useful to consider when writing content for the press.

The elements of STEPPS are as follows, along with ideas for how to use them in crafting PAF narratives for the press, and example headlines demonstrating these principles:

Applying STEPPS

Social Currency

People share content they feel will make them look good in order to gain respect or admiration within their social circles. People often share content that highlights their identity, provides them with a sense of exclusivity, or shows their viewpoints or affiliations put them on the right side of history.

  • How to Use: Capture the attention of animal rights activists, who are likely to reshare content that paints them as ahead of their time or the heroes of the story.

  • Example Headline: Join the Movement: How Animal Advocates Are Redefining Social Norms


Creating an association between a ‘trigger’ (a cue that prompts emotions, memories, or recall of something specific) and an idea or concept you’d like to present makes it more noticeable and memorable.

  • How to Use: Link the campaign to a well-known event, image, celebrity or influencer, anniversary, brand, or something that carries a lot of associations.

  • Example Headline: Jane Goodall calls for end to factory farming amid ‘extreme’ animal cruelty


“When we care, we share.” When we come across content that elicits a strong emotional reaction in us, we often want to share that emotion with others when positive, or to share outrage with others when negative.

  • How to Use: Evoke strong feelings in the reader by highlighting stories of individual animals, painting a clear picture of suffering, or using shared values such as love, kindness, or empathy to stir emotions in the reader.

  • Example Headline: Love Knows No Boundaries: Heartwarming stories of cross-species friendships


Achieving coverage often creates a waterfall effect. As more people become aware, more interest is generated, and more coverage follows. This is particularly true if early coverage comes from influential media outlets.

  • How to Use: Organize actions, public demonstrations, or guerilla marketing campaigns that may grab the attention of the press to gain initial coverage. See what you can do to make it feel like the campaign is already happening in the public sphere.

  • Example Headline: City Unites for Animal Rights: Chalk art installations spread awareness of slaughter industry concerns

Practical Value: Providing usable insights to your audience is a great way to ensure your content gets shared. If someone finds your story useful, they will likely share it with others.

  • How to Use: Provide information that solves a problem for your audience. Many people lack information on what exactly they can do to help animals. Providing them with practical knowledge helps to solve that problem, and can be easily connected back to the campaign.

  • Example Headline: Practical Tips for Compassionate Voting: A Guide to Animal-Friendly Politics


A story has been colloquially defined as “a character overcoming an obstacle to get what they want.” By capturing compelling characters who go up against great odds, and telling their story in an interesting way, people will want to share it and talk about it, allowing your message to travel by word of mouth and build momentum.

  • How to Use: Link the campaign to a particular animal’s story to help the audience better relate to the victims of our farming systems, or feature a person that the audience can relate to and describe an evolution they went through or lessons they learned.

  • Example Headline: Ricardo the Texas Longhorn bull has sparked conversation about animal farming following his dramatic escape from a slaughterhouse

Photography & Videography

Powerful photos and videos can be effective tools for grabbing headlines, so the press wants to see visually compelling story pitches. Sometimes one strong photo at the top of a press release can be enough to capture the media’s attention.


  1. Before an event, consider what type of photo or video you would ideally like to capture (a big crowd, an animal, an effective protest sign, etc.)

  2. Find good photographers and videographers within the activist community who are willing to capture big moments for the campaign.

  3. Focus on one great photo to include in your press release. Choose one that you feel best represents the story, while still being attention-grabbing.

  4. Include any additional photos and videos in a folder linked in your press release. Rename files to make it easy to determine who and what the photo is of.

  5. Your linked folder should include different types of shots capturing different elements of the event/story.

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