OK, you’re on fire with a media idea but don’t know where to start.
Media Releases are an effective way to make an announcement or inform the media on something you think is worth telling.
Before you press the send button on your media release however, it’s important to have a good understanding of the media – what they want, when AND how they want it.
First let’s look at who is who in the media zoo:
The Editor – is responsible for the running of a newspaper or magazine but in a large organisation there may be many staff whose title is that of an editor.
The News Editor – person responsible for news gathering operations and policy on a newspaper or news
The Chief of Staff – is responsible for the reporters, and arranges staff rosters, briefs the journalists, and assists the news editor.
The Chief Sub Editor – is in charge of sub-editors and is responsible for the quality of the editing and usually for most news page layouts.
The Sub Editor – edit copy for the type setter or for broadcasting. They write headings and captions and check facts for accuracy.
The Features Editor – a writer or editor of feature articles.
Roundsman Reporter – has responsibility for a ‘round’ and usually reports exclusively on that area such as education , politics or local government.
Now let’s check in on what is news:
It’s important to recognise what news the media is interested in reporting and consider hooks.
- When it is new – never been done before
- When it is novel – unusual or different
- When it relates to famous persons
- When it is directly important to great numbers of people
- When it involves conflict
- When it involves mystery
- When it is considered confidential
- When it applies to the future
- When it is funny
- When it is romantic or sexy
- When it applies to the local community
Once you have a newsworthy idea, you can look at how you can present it to the media:
- Stage a special event
- Tie in with a holiday/special event/special week or day
- Use a celebrity for promotion
- Celebrate an anniversary
- Hold a contest, or give an award
- Arrange for testimonials
- Tie in with news events of the day
- Issue praise or protest
- Use sponsorship
Depending on the news story or event, there’s a few way to contact the media:
- Address news releases and special articles to the News Editor.
- Any requests for a reporter to cover the event are normally handled by the Chief of Staff.
- If a specialist journalist writes on your particular issue, you should really contact that person direct.
- Request for media coverage of an event should be directed to the News Editor or Station Director
Telephone and email works best
- Using the phone is a more personal approach than sending something in writing and you are able to answer any questions immediately. Keep in mind your contact may be on deadline and may not be able to talk to you when you want to.
- Email allows the journalist to process the information in their own time, and you can attach images and additional information and links as well.
- Consider their deadlines and contact them at least four days prior to an event and definitely follow up with a phone call.
And one more thing – it’s all in the timing:
The time of year, day of the week, and time of the day can affect the likelihood of your story being covered. Weekends, Mondays and Public Holidays are all usually quiet news days so sometimes you have a better chance of gaining coverage.
If there’s a global event happening that the world is watching, best you shelve your media release for today.