- Media relations is a low-cost, highly credible way to inform the community about who you are and what you do. There are numerous ways to get the news media’s attention, including:
- News releases
- Pitch letters
- Letters to the editor, etc.
- No matter what method you use to contact the media, always make sure the information you are presenting is newsworthy to reporters, editors and their readers, listeners and viewers. Be succinct in presenting information through all verbal and written communications.
- News is: Timely, New, Informative, Educational, Significant, Unique, Interesting
Tips for Building a Positive Media Relationship
- Familiarize yourself with the media outlet (i.e., read the newspaper in which you plan to send a news release). Your relationship with the media is a two-way street – it’s as important for you to understand the media as it is for the media to understand you.
- Make sure that you are sending the right information to the right person. Call the general phone number and ask who is the most appropriate person to receive your information (i.e. often there is a “beat” that reporters follow and usually someone is assigned to school/educational news).
- Once the appropriate media contact is identified, call and ask how they prefer to be informed of your news items (i.e., email, phone, fax, etc.)
- Always begin the conversation by stating who you are, why you are calling – in words, not sentences, and ALWAYS ask if they are under deadline. For example:
Hi____, This is _____ calling from _____school in regard to ______(news item).
Do you have a minute or is this not a good time?
If the answer is, “No – this isn’t a good time,” respectfully let them go. DO NOT go into a pitch about why you are contacting them. However, politely ask if there is a time you can call back.
- Follow up with your media contact after sending them information to confirm receipt, unless they have requested otherwise.
Ideas for Gaining Media Exposure
- Guest Articles
- Student Features
- Letters to the Editor
- Event Photos
- Community Calendars
- Student Trips/Performance News
Tapping into Parent/Student Resources
- Recruit a parent (i.e., public relations professional) to help with your media relations. Often, they are looking for ways to show support.
- Draw upon students to help with media relations, such as someone on the yearbook staff, a communications or arts student. They can lend a hand while gaining valuable experience.
Speaking the Right Language
Develop a vocabulary sheet of supportive language and use this terminology in all written and verbal communications, including correspondence with the media. It will help to position your program in a positive light. Here is a vocabulary sheet sample:
|Co- OR extra-curricular||Academic/curricular|
|Contest or concert||Assessment|
|Fun songs/Popular music||National and/or State Standards|
|Grades and pleasing teacher||Working toward personal intrinsic long-term goals|
|Knows how to play instrument||Technique|
|Knows how to play instrument||Understands music|
|Lessons||Small group/ensemble learning|
|Makes them feel good||Involves Cognitive, Psychomotor and Affective|
|Only presenting pieces that audience likes||Enjoyment through knowledge|
|Performing ensemble as team||Performing ensemble as class|
|Pieces or songs||Curriculum|
|Play music||Study music|
|Prodigy or gifted and talented||College bound musician|
|Ratings or grades||Performance outcomes|
|Rote learning/literacy emphasis only||Creative work/student composers included|
|Working for money/grades/ratings||Intrinsic motivation|
Quotes, Quotes, Quotes…
- In news releases and other materials, quotes can provide insight and support for your information. Parents, Principals, Superintendents are great for quotes.
- Do not give broad general statements. Give the facts – names, places and dates.
- A summary sentence can be very useful as a quote.
- Remember figures. Numbers and percentages can help legitimize a story.
- Message should be clear and concise – not “wordy.”
- When “ghost-writing” a quote for someone else, always make sure they approve it before sending it to the media in your materials.
- When talking with the media, remember NOTHING IS OFF THE RECORD!