While Web 2. Calendar items listing your events are easy enough to land, but when you ask the press to cover a story, the first question editors need to answer is whether it is newsworthy. One of the harsh realities of media—especially print media—is the competition for time and space, and the relative disinterest in happy stories and good news. We also get excellent coverage in the Community Calendar listings. I rarely ask for specific coverage—but I follow up on stories where we have a natural connection, and I feed possible features to the specific contact most likely to carry it.
If in doubt, ask them—when you want nothing in return. Is your story new, or is there new information that readers will want to know about?
Importance How many people will the story affect? If you try to get coverage for an event that you know will attract a large number of readers, make sure you tell that to the reporters.
- Main content?
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This is especially relevant for local newspapers. Help editors make the connection by naming the town where you are located, where the event will take place, or where your employee resides. VIPs Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If a congressional representative, senator, mayor, or a local or national star is coming, make sure the reporter knows!
On the other hand, if that person cancels, you should take the time to let the reporter know. Relationships with reporters are developed over time and require trust. Human Interest Editors always welcome human-interest stories that emotionally appeal to readers. There is a thin line between a human-interest story and an infomercial, but reporters can spot the difference from a mile away! Remember to keep the story about human interest and let your library play the supporting role. How to Send Your Release Before you decide on a format for your release, decide whether you will e-mail or fax it.
The only way to know which is best is to call the media outlet and ask how it prefers to get releases. E-mail is a fairly standard mode of operating, but there are still places that prefer a fax. Backgrounders Some articles require that a reporter conduct additional research to write the article. In those cases, it is helpful to send backgrounders with in-depth information that is comprehensive but concise.
This is great when you want a reporter to have lots of information about the opening of a new library or comprehensive programs. Fact Sheets Fact sheets present just the facts—use charts, headings, or bullet points that the reporter can use for the story. Photos Label all photos with the type of file and a caption. Traditional press releases are written in an inverted-pyramid style with the most important information in the first paragraph. Ideally the release should be written so that an editor can edit from the bottom paragraph by paragraph without losing the essential information.
Contacts: Name, phone number, and e-mail. Hint—include two names to make sure the reporter can always reach someone. You may omit this line, but always include the date.
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- HYMNS OF THE SAMAVEDA?
Dateline: This tells the reader the town where the reporter gathered the basic information for the story. Begin your release with a dateline by typing the name of your town in caps followed by a dash. Headline: Headline writing is an art in itself. Slug: If your release runs more than one page, write the word more in brackets or between dashes, centered at the bottom of the first page. That first paragraph must answer the who, what, where, when, and why about the story.
Try to include a quote in every other paragraph. The best way to get interesting quotes is to ask for a specific subject to be covered in the quote. It 53 often helps if you write up a draft of the talking points you are looking for the person to include in a quote. Always advise people to give quotes that reflect their personality rather than an alter ego. Authenticity is always the best approach. If it is the first time you are sending an attachment, check with the reporter to find out his or her preference.
The Media Advisory Many librarians automatically create a full press release when a simple media advisory or photo op would do.
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If you are looking to get a reporter or photographer to cover an event, you can save yourself some time by using the following format. The best way to understand what kind of release you should send is by looking at your newspaper, comparing those stories to yours, and noting what kind of coverage they received. Did they receive a couple of paragraphs blurb , a half- to full-page article, an article with a picture, a picture with a deep caption, or a calendar listing?
These are good indicators of how an editor would feature your story as well. This is a straightforward release that lists who, what, when, where, and why. Type of coverage: Picture with deep caption, feature story Type of release: Photo-op request—an alert to the media about a photo opportunity.
If you think this is something that can be expanded to include a feature story, then make sure you include a full release. Type of coverage: News or feature story Type of release: News release—you have a great event or a news item and it covers two, three, or even four criteria that editors look for in a story. A larger daily paper will use your news release as a base for an article, but most daily papers will pop a staff byline on it and publish it in full. One of our programmers at a branch started this effort and makes sure the information is correct on the websites.
They are positive and specific; they contain strong, active verbs and short, simple words. Except for one, all numbers in headlines should be written as numerals. Listing Events Time—date—building—street—town The event will take place 4 p. If you include the day, then use Time—day—date—building—street—town The event will take place 4 p. Abbreviations Before a full name outside a direct quote, abbreviate the following: Dr. Inside a direct quote, spell out all except Dr. After a name abbreviate Jr.
After the name of a corporate entity, abbreviate Co. So the alternative approach is to write the release for web posting only. That means dropping the AP style and writing your release to appeal to the reader. Keep your posts short and add photos for interest. Two Tips about Keywords If you are going to post your news items to the Web, you need to make sure you have included metatags and keywords to ensure that search engines 57 pick up your articles.
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Be the iReporter—submit photos and videos to the CNN website and local news sites. You can also send the list to your local newspapers. We have relationships with a couple of local radio stations, and we record PSAs each month that they run. After the Federal Communication Commission deregulated the rules in the s, allowing stations to determine their own standards for public interest programming, it was difficult to get on the air.
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But there is renewed interest at the FCC that could result in more airtime. For example, satellite radio might be required to provide public interest programming. It would be worth your time to visit the station manager in person to update his or her perception of what your library does for the community.