Most newspaper and media outlets will cover your Toastmasters event when you follow the basic rules of effective written communication for a news release. Today’s organizations prefer articles, photos and story ideas via email. Below are key elements to include in your pitches.
- Begin with the date if your event is upcoming.
- Be specific, i.e. “Feb. 6 free family fair” tells much more than “Press Release.”
- Tell your story ideas i.e. “Disabled people learn to surf” peaks more interest in a moment than “Story idea.”
- Know each publication’s lead time.
- Newspapers may need 1 to 2 weeks.
- Magazines may need 4 to 6 weeks.
- Be succinct.
- Stay focused.
- Write straight forward as if you were talking to a friend about your story.
- Write for your audience: the editor and readers.
- What would they want to know?
- Why would this be important to them?
- What would you say if you only had 100 words to tell us about your subject?
- Provide it!
- Read your email often in case the editor has a question for you – they have tight deadlines.
- Make sure your website works.
- Submit articles or photos of an event that has happened shortly after it takes place.
- A Toys for Tots Christmas event is more appropriately published in December than in March.
- Send via email whenever possible.
- Send in high resolution.
- Most photos copied from websites are too small and will not publish well.
- Include captions that tell editors in a nutshell what is happening in the photo and who the people are.
- If you pay for a sign to say, “Circus Coming to the Fairgrounds Saturday,” that’s ADVERTISING.
- If you put the sign on the side of an elephant and walk him around town that’s PROMOTION.
- If the elephant walks through the mayor’s garden and the media reports on it, that’s PUBLICITY.
- If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s PUBLIC RELATIONS.
Initial content above compiled and documented updated 09-06-2013 by Michael Varma, DTM, Founder’s District Public Relations Office 2009-2010