Your Quick and East Guide to Reaching the Media
from Andy Burness
Burness Communications, Bethesda, MD

Becoming a Media Resource

  1. Be honest – always tell the truth.
  2. Become familiar with media outlets and reports. Watch what they are doing to see what their interests are.
  3. Be informative – provide supporting materials and suggest additional sources. Back up with brief written material.
  4. Be cooperative and sensitive to deadlines. Don’t argue with reporters.
  5. Keep message concise and clear.
  6. Have good story ideas.
Why Publicize?

  1. To reach key audiences, credibly.
  2. To help the general public understand your organization’s value to the community.
  3. To show that your organization is contributing to efforts to improve children’s well-being.
  4. To make a difference.

What is “News”?

  1. Something different today than yesterday.
  2. Surprising, unexpected, counterintuitive.
  3. The first, biggest, most comprehensive.
  4. Raises new issues, problems, solutions.
  5. Linked to what’s already in the news.
  6. Intriguing to your neighbor.

Feature Stories

  1. Not time-sensitive, no critical release date.
  2. Innovative, unique, one-of-a-kind.
  3. High human interest.
  4. Addresses a timely problem.
  5. May require promotional pitch letter.

Television Stories

  1. Have visuals available – pictures, allow them to interview staff, show graphs.
  2. Develop a ‘one-pager’ and fax it to television producers and assignment editors.
  3. Describe story simply and vividly and keep it short.

Press Release – How to turn it into a story

  1. Covers the basic facts – who, what, when, where, why and how.
  2. Brief and accurate.
  3. Reads like a news story.
  4. Free of jargon, cliches and puns.
  5. Written in active voice.
  6. Contains provocative, colorful quotes.


Pitching a Story

  1. Relax and be yourself.
  2. Be straightforward and helpful.
  3. Avoid calling late in the afternoon.
  4. Don’t assume anything is “off the record.”

What to Look for in Web Sites when pitching a story, consider:

  1. The site’s content – Does it match your story?
  2. The site’s audience
  3. Appropriateness of story – Could you see it there?

How to Pitch to the Web

  1. Find Webmaster’s e-mail address
  2. 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

  3. Follow-up