Preparing Material for Mass Media. Chapter 14

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1 Preparing Material for Mass Media Chapter 14

2 The News Release Also still known as press releases, news releases are the most commonly used public relations tactic They date back to Ivy Lee in 1906 (Pennsylvania railroad client), the first handouts given to reporters Still the backbone and work horse of media relations A news release is a simple document whose primary purpose is the dissemination of information to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines A high percentage of articles in newspapers come in some way from news releases Up to 50 percent of Wall Street Journal articles have news release origins 75 percent of journalists said the used PR sources for their stories, according to one study

3 Meeting the Media Needs The media rely on news releases for many reasons: Reporters and editors today spend more time processing info than collecting it No media operation has enough staff to cover every single event in the community Consequently much of the more routine news in a newspaper is PR-provided or has PR origins

4 Judging News Releases The news media have no obligation to run news releases sent them Releases are judged solely on newsworthiness, timeliness, interest to the readers, and other traditional news values So to have a chance of being used, releases must be formatted correctly, be well written, and contain accurate, timely and (often) localalized information

5 Newsworthy News Releases Tips on Writing Releases (p. 355) Short succinct headlines and subheads to highlight main points and pique interest Descriptive and creative words to grab attention Avoid hype, exaggeration and over-promotion If your company is not a household name, focus on the news in headline/lead Focus on how your announcement affects industry Speak with pizzazz to increase publication chances Critique by asking Who cares? Why should readers be interested? Don t use lame quotes. Write like people speak avoid corporatese that editors love to ignore Look for creative ways to tie your announcement in with current news or trends. Be relevant for the editors readers Follow the AP Stylebook Don t expect editors to print entire release put most important information in first two paragraphs

6 Releases must have direction and purpose consider these questions as putting one together: What is the key message? Who is the primary audience for the release? What does the target audience gain from the product, service, event, or distinction? What objective does the release serve? Is it to increase product sales, to increase attendance, to enhance reputation?

7 The 5 Ws and H of Journalism Who, what, when, where, why and how Think like a journalist and write a well-crafted news story that answers these basic questions Write in inverted pyramid style with a basic summary lead, followed by information in descending order of importance With this formula, editors can evaluate the release in the first three or four sentences Know that editors cut stories from the bottom And that people often don t read the entire story

8 Writing the release Use Associated Press (AP) style Be concise Avoid clichés, jargon, embellishment, exaggeration, gush Double-check all information Include organization background (boilerplate) this is a short graf, a thumbnail sketch of what the organization does, makes, is about, etc Localize whenever possible

9 The Multimedia News Release AKA Smart Media Release (SMR) These high tech releases can be embedded with highresolution photos, graphics, video, audio SMRs/MNRs pioneered by major electronic distribution services Business Wire, PR Newswire, PRWeb, and Market Wire They have teamed with Google, Yahoo and MSN to promote exposure of the news release through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) SEO is the process of carefully selecting key words for the news release that make the content easily retrievable Business Wire executive: The most important thing to our clients is seeing their news release on these search engines. They know consumers go there. SMRs have expanded the audience for news releases beyond traditional media outlets

10 Media Alerts/Media Advisories Different in format than news releases Media alerts use short, bulleted items rather than long paragraphs Usually consists of a headline, contact info and bulleted Who, What, When, Where Media alerts are often accompanied by the more formal news release

11 Media Kits These are often prepared for major events and new product launches Purpose is to give editors and reporters a variety of information and resources that make it easier for the reporter to write about the topic Kit contents: news release; fact sheet; background info; photos and drawings; biographical info; basic brochures; a news feature about the product/service

12 Pitch letters These are short letters or notes written to editors and other media gatekeepers to try to grab their attention These are more personal, and are addressed to specific reporters/editors Pitch letters can be mailed, ed, faxed, or the pitch can be done in person or on the telephone

13 Publicity Photos News releases are often accompanied by a photo, either as an attachment or embedded into an SMR May be a basic head-and-shoulder of a person or may be an attractive photo of a product if it s a new product release Studies show more people read photographs than articles Three-to-four times as many people notice the average one-column photo as read the average news story

14 Mat Feature Releases Called mat because they were sent in mat or camera-ready form Today, distributed as word docs, jpegs, pdfs, and other ways The concept of these canned features is to provide helpful consumer info and tips about a variety of subjects in an informative way, mentioning sponsoring group only briefly See watermelon recipe mat release example in book (p. 375) that looks and reads like a feature page in a newspaper

15 Distributing media materials Mail still liked by journalists for unsolicited PR materials that is not as time sensitive Fax still used when people want to quickly get a copy of a document instead of having to download it reporter/editor favorite; subject line key Electronic news services (such as PR Newswire and Business Wire)- growing popularitry Online newsrooms most major organizations have a press or newsroom as part of their websites

16 News Conferences The two major reasons for having a newser are to give all media an opportunity to hear the announcement at the same time And to provide a setting where reporters can ask followup questions. Hold news conferences when: An announcement of considerable importance to a large number of people in the community needs to be made A matter of public concern needs to be explained Reporters have requested access to a key individual, and it is important to give all media equal access to the person A new product or an invention in the public interest is to be unveiled, demonstrated, and explained to the media A person of importance is coming to town, and there are many media interview requests A complex issue or situation is to be announced, and the media need access to someone who can answer their questions

17 News Conference Factors Scheduling: set a time that is convenient for reporters; consider their deadlines Consider how your setting, stage, backdrop will look to audience and on TV/papers Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings are best for daily papers and broadcast media Avoid dates/times when other major news events are going on Invitations: Invite all reporters, influential bloggers, and govt. leaders Better to invite too many than omit some who may feel slighted Location: Try to make convenient for media to reach And the room or outside setting must have necessary facilities for print and b cast media Plus if you are going to stream it live, make sure that s technically set up and rehearsed Allow media to come an hour or two before to get ready If it is streamed or transmitted by satellite invited appropriate media nationally and internationally to view If possible, printed or faxed invitations should be sent days in advance and should be marked RSVP so that you can make appropriate decisions regarding room size, number of media kits needed, special equipment, etc.

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