Your Quick and East Guide to Reaching the Media
from Andy Burness
Burness Communications, Bethesda, MD
Becoming a Media Resource
- Be honest – always tell the truth.
- Become familiar with media outlets and reports. Watch what they are doing to see what their interests are.
- Be informative – provide supporting materials and suggest additional sources. Back up with brief written material.
- Be cooperative and sensitive to deadlines. Don’t argue with reporters.
- Keep message concise and clear.
- Have good story ideas.
- To reach key audiences, credibly.
- To help the general public understand your organization’s value to the community.
- To show that your organization is contributing to efforts to improve children’s well-being.
- To make a difference.
What is “News”?
- Something different today than yesterday.
- Surprising, unexpected, counterintuitive.
- The first, biggest, most comprehensive.
- Raises new issues, problems, solutions.
- Linked to what’s already in the news.
- Intriguing to your neighbor.
- Not time-sensitive, no critical release date.
- Innovative, unique, one-of-a-kind.
- High human interest.
- Addresses a timely problem.
- May require promotional pitch letter.
- Have visuals available – pictures, allow them to interview staff, show graphs.
- Develop a ‘one-pager’ and fax it to television producers and assignment editors.
- Describe story simply and vividly and keep it short.
Press Release – How to turn it into a story
- Covers the basic facts – who, what, when, where, why and how.
- Brief and accurate.
- Reads like a news story.
- Free of jargon, cliches and puns.
- Written in active voice.
- Contains provocative, colorful quotes.
Pitching a Story
- Relax and be yourself.
- Be straightforward and helpful.
- Avoid calling late in the afternoon.
- Don’t assume anything is “off the record.”
What to Look for in Web Sites when pitching a story, consider:
- The site’s content – Does it match your story?
- The site’s audience
- Appropriateness of story – Could you see it there?
How to Pitch to the Web
- Find Webmaster’s e-mail address
- Compose pitch letter asking for a link or alerting of news–Keep it brief
–Make it conversational in tone
–Include your URL and e-mail address and phone