36 Tipsfrom Media Professionals ere are 36 tips about how to get more media coverage I 0 Put a human face .on your Story. "NothingH sells like a for your state or local Libertarian organization. These human face. You need to have your facts and figures, your suggestions are straight from media professionals - statistics, bur a human face will trump your faces."the Wbite House reporter for USA Today; the Washingtoncorrespondent for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; a booker II Try to localize your Story. "You want to give an example offrom CNNcable network, and a producer for a WashingtOn-area how your issue will impact your neighbor, your community. Manyradio station. smaller newspapers will only take Stories With a local angle." These tips were collected at a seminar at the National PressClub entided: "How to Get ~Iedia Coverage for Your Issues and 12 Avoid the beltway mentality. "We think whats importantSpokesmen," sponsored by one ofWashingtOn, DCs most to us is important to the folks back home." Frequently, it isnt.successful public relations firms, Creative Response Concepts(CRC). Quotes are verbatim from the various journalists. 13 Take your message to alternate media sources like talk radio. "Theres nothing to reach the masses like talk radio. I Good media coverage starts with a good media fa.(or mail Theres nothing to get your message out like talk radio."list "Theres quite a bit of turnover; keep your list up-to-date." 14 "Recyde your press dips" on a regular basis to show the2 "Its ~portant to have a regular list of contacts. Have a core media that youre already newsworthy.list mata/ways gets your press releases." I5 Be L:~tive. "The more creative you are, the more the3 Keep your press releases to one page.rTwo pages just . media wants to keep in touch with you." ..annoys them." 16 Be immediately accessible. ::D;i~·tr..nsce;~/ev~rything4 Wote good headlines. "Make it sery and interesting." else. I cant srressrhis enough. When Ineed information, I need ie now."5 Use a subhead in your press release. "There is supportingevidence that a subhead Willencourage the reader to read the 17 Be honest. "Once crossed, a reporter will never trust youfirst paragraph." again. Once youve breached that trust, its gone. If you dont know an answer, tell them so."6 Writeabout breaking news. "Piggyback on headlines. Whatscompelling to you isnt ah••. news, but whats news is always ays 18 Bepersonable. "It goes a long way."compelling." 19 Take advice, "Listen to what [he media tells you about7 Dont call journalists late in the afternoon. "Try to contact their business."reporters in the morning - before 1 or 2:00 in the afternoon. By4:30 or 5:00, theyre scrambling on deadline." 20 Target your media message, "Know the publication youre reaching out co. Understand your various options of coverage."8 Send out press releases on a regular basis. "If there is no 21 Provide noueuy. "Were always looking for new people toconsistem contact, theyre going to forget about you. Regularcontact is important." talk to - fresh angles."9 Trt to mft your press releases as a "horror story." "Thats 22 Be [he first to spot J [rend. "Help us identify trends: give us solid examples. Two [things happening] is a coincidence;Wh:H sells newspapers; thats what gets TV ratings." three is a trend!"
.- " 23 Put a specific journalists ~e on ~v~ fi..~"[USA 33 Faxed p~s releases still work better than e-rnail. It willToday] gees more than 1,000 pages of material each day," and be "three to five years" before ehe Internee is a primary conduitfaxes without a reporters name gee tossed into the trash. for news. "We do not receive press releases by the Internet. Its still down the road."24 If you leave a phone message, "Keep ie short!" 3 4 When calling a reporter, your first question should be:25 If you mail your press release (instead of faxing it) try "Is it a good time to talk?"hand-addressing the envelope. "A loe of people say theyre moreindined to open hand-addressed mail." 35 On talk radio, be interesting and provocative. "We want people who wiil make our listeners say, Did you hear what they26 Provide your home phone. "Home phone numbers are said on ~"WRC?"invaluable. Please give me your home phone number" to contactafter business hours. 36 Grab peoples anention wtth the first sentence of your press release. "If someone hies me in the first sentence, I might27 Never call a reporter after 4:00 pm. "Dont call me on get to the second sentence."deadline. If its after 4:00, Im on deadline."28 Dont send a press kit unless requested. "I must confess,fancy press kns end up in the trash."29 Call reporters back ?sM. "If I call you, you can assume Ineed you right away, Dont neglect call-backs."3 0 If you leave your phone number on voice mail, "sla»doum, and maybe say it twice."31 For events you want televised, give advance warning -but not too much. "Its helpful to call on Monday if you havesomething going on on Thursday or Friday."32 Be (politely) persistent, "If I dont call back, call again,Sometimes, the only v.ay you get nouced-s to call two or threetimes."
HoW~~ Yrite an Effective Ne-ws- Reteas-eThe News Release • The name of the person responsible for the release; - News releases are used to notify the news • A telephone number where that personmedia of an event that has happened or will can be reached;happen. These events include: meetings, • A statement of when the release should beannouncements of candidacy, staged events, made public (it will be "For Immediate Release"actions of LP groups, and comments on current nine times out of ten).events by LP leaders or candidates. In short,anything which could be of interest to someone Format/Appearanceoutside the LP is a possible topic for a newsrelease. A news release should be easy to read. If it Prepare a Media list. The easiest source is isnt, it wont be read. Therefore, alwaysthe Yellow Pages under the headings: double space; always leave big margins aroundNewspapers; Radio Stations; Television the copy; always indent paragraphs well inStations. Its desirable to send your releases to from the margin - about ten spaces. _the "Political Editor" or "News Editor." - It iseven better to find out that persons name, by If the release is more than one page, staplecalling the newspaper or station. There are the pages together, and indicate page numbers.other sources of media lists besides the Yellow Use a standard designator at the end of thePages, notably the library. Include the wire release, such as "#," "-30-," or "End." Typeservices (AP, UPI, etc.) if their offices are in "MORE" at the bottom of each page to showthe territory covered by the release. that the release continues on the next page. You may wish to use one release for news- Style/Structurepapers, and another for television and radio.You will be writing them as you would like to If you have never written a news releasehave them printed or read, and different media before, or if all of your previous ones havewill be able to use different lengths of stories. been lousy, take a look at a number of news articles from your local paper. Read them for Write to be heard. And write your release style, not content. Note that-all newsarticlesexactly as you would like to see it printed in the are written alike; they all read !he same way.paper. Very often it will be, if you do a good Remember that if your release doesn t read likeand reasonable job. Dont write a four page any other news release, the reporteror, editorrelease if the paper can only be expected to print will have to rewrite it. He doesnt want tothree paragraphs. rewrite it. So he probably wont use it. Most reporters and editors are busy (and A news release is not a short story. It doessometimes lazy) people. They do not wish to not have a beginning, a middle, and an end.rewrite your release, and the chances of getting Instead, it follows a specific structure known asyour release used by the media are an inverted pyramid.proportionate to its correctness of style,structure, and content. Fortunately, mastering Decide what you are going to say, thenstyle, structure and content is easy. -prioririze. your points in .order of importance, and write them, paragraph by paragraph, inAlways Include ••• descending order. The important points come first; the trivial detail comes last. • The name of the organization issuing the The Reason: Editors have spacenews release; requirements, and may need to cut your story to
fit available space. They cut from the bottom Confine these to the bare details. After the up. Maybe the editor will have room only for announcement goes out, call the individual your first two paragraphs; if so, youl1 want to recipients, make sure they have received it, and say what you have to say in that space. invite them to attend. Paragraphs should be short, no more than Helpful Hints two or three sentences, and sometimes only one is enough. Involved, complicated thoughts do • Hand deliver your press releases to the not fit easily into news articles. appropriate person. As with ev.erything else in politics, personal contact is crucial. If you have Because of the importance of the inverted a major story, you may wish to meet a friendlypyramid, always tell Who, What, Where, and reporter over breakfast to discuss it in detail.When in your first paragraph. Be sure to make at least one personal call on every news entity in the district as early in theWhat to Say campaign as possible. It will help you to get your stories printed, and will also be helpful The first paragraph covers all the bases, and when it is time to seek their endorsement latershould be written as if the entire story could be in the campaign.told - not the details, but the essentials -even if everything else were cut out. • Follow up your news releases with personal phone calls. Reporters and editorsAnd What Not to Say will come to know you, and may even call you for commentary because they know youre A news article is not an editorial, and a around. Always treat them as people; theyllnews release is not a vehicle to propagandize as appreciate it.such. Express as much opinion as you want,but do it between quotation marks. • Correct all grammar and spelling. Avoid esoteric terms understandable to no • Cultivate local newspapers and stations.one but another libertarian ("epistemology," They need news, and are more likely to run"neo- Rothbardian "). your release in its entirely. Back to quotes: Make them up. If you are • Think of ways to catch the editorswriting a news release about your candidate, attention visually. Buy a rubber stamp andyou dont have to call him. If you will be stamp "NEWS" in red ink on the release, or usehandling releases regularly, make prior color in the letterhead.arrangements with the candidate that he willstand behind any quote you attribute to him. • Preview your ads with the press, especially if it is an attack ad. If your ad isPhotos and Tapes unique enough yoomay get substantial airplay on newscasts, along with extra comments by you. Use them, if they relate to the story and aregood quality. Include them with the release to • In some of your releases, target issues thenewspapers. For television, use slides or film press feels strongly about. By displaying areasclips if you can get them, as well as photos. of agreement with the local press, you are moreFor radio stations, provide cassette tapes of the likely to get your other stories covered.speaker. for use on the air. These should bevery brief. • Learn deadlines. Dont try to push them.Announcements From Libertarian Political Action, Techniques An Advance Announcement is used to for Effective Campaigning,notify the media of an upcoming event. A Publication of the Libertarian Party.
. - More Tips on News Releases • Here are some more tips to successful news releases: * Never send out a news releasea that doesnt have an individuals media on it. . Editor or Reporter. Establish friendly relationship with your name contacts. 1 • Keep an accurate, up-to-date list of targeted media people. Call your l~l media and ask who is their political reporter, talk show host, etc. Get names, titles, fax # s, phone # s. Keep your list up to date. 25 % of the list will be obsolete in a year. Call through the list every six months. Note new media outlets in your area. • Keep a special list of those who are specifically sympathetic to us-~tten or said something nice about us. If they responded once, they are most likely to respond again. They need to get every release. * Mix up the type of releases you send. There are samples of each type included. • News Releases-something happened or is about to happen. Most likely to be picked up. Especially by local outlets. • Issues Releases-an opinion. Will depend on how influential you are. Be novel or unexpected The entertainment value. • Useful Information Releases-provide a service to the journalist. State an opinion and include interesting factual data. Allow the journalist to sound smart. Do the research for them. • Strategy Releases-the sporting event factor. A strategy that youre implementing, i.e. young candidate appealing to GenXers. Combine with-an issue. How youre going to succeed. Use objective facts and figures. to prove your credibility. -•.~ ,_ ::, Number of registered Libertarians going up: More candidates running than last year. More contributing members. Bigger budgets. Rate of growth of members. Repeat the good numbers over and over in different releases. * secondsyourinterest them. Your headline is it. YouAdd aten seconds for them to have four Make to releases professional and interesting. have punchy headline. You read your first paragraph. Your first paragraph gets them to read the rest. •. Keep it.short. Never mor~ ~en one p~ge. Us~ s.tandard news writing style ..Be mteresnng news. A tantalizing, sensational opiruon, Summarize the release In one sentence (your first sentence), Keep opinions in "quotes." Facts without quotes. Use short sentences. Action verbs. Be lively, • Use the same header on your releases every time. A standard look. Change it
y~iy; Date our releases foi the next day and write :Immediate Relc:a~e" on them. This tells them this is pew, and the date says It has not been sitnng around there desk for weeks. . • Include your name and phones numbers. When they need more information, they need in NOW! Be available. * Put out more releases. A Party that does more will generate more media. Constantly remind them youre there. Tout your accomplishments. More releases increase your odds of getting lucky. * When quoting an official in your Party, it is not always necessary to have that person actually make a quote. Just make something up and attribute it the them. • Let the quoted person read the draft sentences before it is sent out. After awhile you will get a list of issues you will always have to have the quoted review first and another list of issues where the quoted wont need to preview the quotes. • After the quotes are made, the quoted person should memorize the quotes he "said" in case a media call in generated the quoted person will be on the same page as the release .• News releases are not a substitute for action. Success generates coverage .• The interview call. Your releases will generate calls. You need to be available and prepared. * The first four minutes are the most important. You never have to recover from a good start. You never have to recover from a good start. Capture the attention of the audience. Be interesting, fun, enjoyable. / .~ * able to fully address this Issue today so people can call us at 1-800":6-81-1776 (or 1-be ." •.... Several times (every fi!t~n minutes or so), find an opportunity-to Say, We may not 800-292-3766) or they can link to our website-at www .Ip.o rg (or www.lpnc.org)." * When taking calls use thirty second answers. Use the Ransberger Pivot (contact the Advocates for Self-Government for training on the Ransberger Pivot). For people who disagree, make your point and move on. * Make the host look good He may invite you back or to stay longer .• What follows are sample ~ews releases. First is an announcement of a county organizational rneenng. The latter are vanous styles of releases sent recently by the National Party.
- , - . .. ". ,Public Relations -• There are some 200,000 media contacts in the U.S. . * * The National Party can afford to send its News Releases to only about 2,000 of them. The National Press Secretary urges and encourages each State and Local Party to forward National News Releases onto media outlets in their areas. • The media in your area is most likely not getting National releases. Especially if youre in a smaller market. * Smaller market news papers are the most likelv to run our stories! • Those smaller papers are not getting the regular and constant attention they need to be aware that we are out here and have an opinion on every breaking news story. • If your media contact just happens to be getting National releases and you start sending them. They will kindly let you know that they are getting two copies. * Secretary on the enclosed contact National News Releases, contactbythe NationalorPress If you are not already getting the sheet. Releases can be received fax, mail, e-mail via the National Partys Announcement e-mail list. • To subscribe to the announcements mailing list, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with the word "subscribe" in the subject line. * Note that the e-mail releases are 500 words while the faxed and mailed releases are just 350 words to fit on one page . • If you choose to forward the National releases, you can add your contact information next to Nationals on the release but know the facts and background information on the story in case you get called. If you dont know the data, leave just the National contact information attached. , _ ; ,;->..-:" . ...4~ ::. <-