~ Guidelines ~
The Lincolnshire media [TV, radio and the press] are a very helpful lot. They are always on the lookout for a good story and will almost always respond to a press release given in good time. But staff are hard pressed, so listen to what they say. They are reasonably good at taking on board what you are trying to get across and will help you if you ask them how best to make your point! They may prefer to receive your press releases and photos by e-mail these days and will often use press releases unaltered. Whether this makes for better reporting is debatable.
However, the first step is to decide the What, Where and When?
- What is the story?
- Where is it taking place?
- When is it going to happen?
- This requires thought and planning before drafting your press release so you can give media colleagues the information they need to assess the story and get to the right place on time.
What makes a good story?
Remember - the best stories can be spoiled by something dramatic happening elsewhere at the last minute - you just have to do your best to put across as good a story as possible.
- The best media stories are about people in action, doing things, achieving things, experiencing things, winning things.
- Good stories are big, new and fresh, first time events, special events, happy, sad, quirky or significant events with a strong human angle, youngsters, older people, interest or professional groups, good causes.
The same applies to photographs and a good picture IS worth a thousand words, especially in these days of digital photography.
Bad stories are good stories too! You will not want to promote bad stories about your organisation, but one day you may have to deal with negative publicity in some form to limit possible damage.
[Think about it and have a plan!]
- You need to tell your story in a straightforward way - leave the journalists to give it their own distinctive style - write in the third person as for a newspaper, but place the interest and emphasis as you want people to understand it.
- Factual work-type stories may well be true and useful - but they just may not strike the right note - it's the interest factor you always have to consider - and the "hook" - that special touch that captures the attention.
- Be honest, professional and reliable with media colleagues - and don't try to be clever with them. It is best if they know they can trust you.
- When planning an event when the media are to be invited, be sure you have considered what you are going to put on for them - is it visual? Does it meet the reporting needs?
Do your homework and you will have done your media colleagues a favour, and they will be better able to deliver a good story.
Things to remember:
- What is the basic story? What is special?
The what, where, and when?
- What other things need to be put across?
The background. Who YOU are - your organisation - the key points.
- What do you want the story to achieve?
The response. Who are your contact people?
How can they be contacted?
Contingency planning for big turn outs.
Be prepared for success!
- When would you like the coverage to take place?
This determines when you do the press release, and set any press call.
Fridays or Mondays are generally good for weekly papers.
- Who is taking part?
Journalists need the correct names of key people and partners.
Put these in the press release - correctly!
Have an up to date media handout on the day.
- A press call needs planning and management like any event.
Who will be there for the media to talk to?
Does everyone know where to go, park, meet up, what to wear?
Have you considered:
Timing is the key!
- Timing is the key to successful media work.
- Plan your releases in good time.
- Releases need not go to everyone every time.
Send them out to all the appropriate contacts.
- Local stories need local coverage,
county stories a wider circulation.
Stratify your contact lists and pick targets to suit the story.
- Put them out by the fastest appropriate route,
first class post, fax or e-mail.
- Make sure you meet copy deadlines.
- Build in time for photocalls or interviews.
- Be available to take enquiry calls as needed.
- Be available for followup calls.
Example Press Release.
- Date of release
- Date, time and place of any photo/press call.
- [date and expiry time of any Embargo - a convention you should not use unless it is really needed]
- Date, time and place of any photo/press call.
- Text of release. WITH QUOTES.
- For further information contact........
- Name(s). Contact address(es).
With telephone, fax and e-mail, and mobile phone if possible.
- Details of any background information available on World Wild Web - with your website URL.
- Notes for editors: Paragraph explaining who you are [the organisation], what you do, and why it is important - a case statement you can reuse on every press release.
» Endangered Punctuation - The Apostrophe [']
» The Apostrophe probably causes the commonest punctuation
» problems in current English usage! If you can never remember
» when to use it, here's a useful webpage with the rules:
» "Omissions, ownership, but not for plain plurals!"
The Apostrophe Protection Society, based in Boston, Lincolnshire.
This information sheet is available on webpage http://rogerparsons.info/pressrels.html
[Please respect copyright and do not plagiarise this information. You are welcome to use this material for your own purposes, or to put in a hotlink to this webpage, but please do not copy and alter it and pass it off as your own; it is not.]
© 2007 Roger Parsons