LWVUS Media Tips: Maximize Your Visibility!

PRESS RELEASES AND MEDIA ADVISORIES

  • Press Releases and Media Advisories are similar methods to get out information about what your League is doing. Both provide succinct and pertinent information about your event or issue in an easy-to-read format. Please use template materials provided by LWVUS to help you get started.
  • Always make your most important point at the top- reporters may only read the first paragraph before deciding if it's worth it to give you call or include your League in a story.
  • Include a good quote. Why should they care? How does this relate to other issues affecting the community?
  • Keep things short- All information should fit on one page.
  • Media Advisories are an effective way of encouraging media to attend your event. Unlike a press release, which includes background information and quotes, a media advisory just provides the Who, What, Where, When, Why of the event.
  • Contact information is absolutely vital on any materials you send to the press. Include your phone number, Email address and Web site address, especially if you're sending materials electronically.
  • Do not send press materials as attachments; instead, paste right into body of the email.
  • While it may seem important to get the release out to as many media outlets as possible, a great deal of importance is placed on providing a personal touch. Taking the time to write a quick personal note to reporters, especially if you've seen them writing on your League's issues or have met them in the past, makes a huge difference.
  • Timing- Members of the press often set their calendars at the last minute. Even if you send the release out a week ahead of time, be sure to follow-up the day before the event to remind them. Even then they may not commit—but this is very normal!
  • Call at the right time. Most reporters have story deadlines of 3 or 4 pm, so calling in the mid-morning is usually best. In a follow-up call you just want to reiterate why it's important that they attend your event. Keep it short and friendly, and offer to resend the information!

OP-EDS/LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

  • Opinion pieces and letters to the editor are similar; sometimes a newspaper will call upon a local community group (such as the League) to write an opinion piece on a certain issue; sometimes the League will submit something on its own. Letters to the editor are similar, appear on the opinion page of the newspaper, and often appear in response to a previous article that has appeared.
  • Opinion pieces should be SHORT, no more than 500 words. Sometimes a paper will have a word limit posted on its website.
  • Use very simple, clear, and concise language that will grab attention.
  • You will usually submit letters via email; be sure to include your full contact information and League title. Opinion pages are generally put together a few days ahead of time, so be sure to submit it early enough in advance.
  • When you submit a letter to the editor, call the opinion page office and ask them who to send to, what their submission requirements are, and if the paper is likely to run the piece. They will likely give you an honest answer. If they make edits to your letter, they may ask for your approval.
  • Op/Eds and Letters to the Editor serve as great opportunities to gain coverage after an event has already happened.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEETINGS
**See "Editorial Board Meetings" Training Document for more details**

  • Editorial board meetings generally involve one or more people from your organization and two or more writers for the opinions section of a newspaper.
  • They're usually not on issues of immediate news importance, but on more ongoing issues that are of interest to the community or the editorial board itself. They are a conversation, usually about an hour, and sometimes (but sometimes do not) result in an opinion piece written.
  • The editorial board members will have questions, but you should also have talking points prepared to make your case.
  • The best way to set these up is to call the opinion page office and feel out their interest and find out who the best contact person is.
  • If you do get a meeting, BE SURE to do your research! Look through archives of the paper online, and read through any opinion pieces that have been written on the issue. This will give you a sense of the views of the board ahead of time, and you'll be prepared for what questions are coming.

BUILDING BETTER PRESS LISTS

  • Building a press list is a very big job, but it is very important to keep track of the reporters covering specific issues for your local newspaper.
  • It may be helpful to organize your press list by issue area.
  • When updating your list of TV and radio stations, you will usually want the contact information of a News Editor or Assignment Editor—they are the ones telling reporters where to go/what to cover.
  • Be sure to include minority media outlets on your list!
  • Community papers (not big city papers) may end up being the best way to get your message out. People aren't necessarily reading the Plain Dealer or Orlando Sentinel every day, they're reading their local town's paper. Get to know the writers for these papers and tell them why the issue is important.
  • Remember to contact your newspaper or public access TV station's Community Calendars- they will usually be happy to include your event.
  • Try reaching out to a local blog or web forum discussing current events in your area