Localizing: The secret to success in dealing with community newspapers is customizing the stories to their interest.  What interests local newspapers most are newsworthy activities taking place in the paper's distribution area.

Premature Exposure: Remember that the media want action,  not ideas. If you are about to launch a new concept in diving, recognize that the news media will want to see examples of how it works.  Make it work first — then go after press coverage.

Invite the Media: Send the news media invitations to your events. If your budget can handle it, invite them to events as your guest.  Recognize that truly professional news media people are sensitive to being bought.  Your gift does not entitle you to cheery coverage if something goes sour.

Stay Positive: Don't be surprised or upset if your story is changed or not used. Even the best stories are often re-written by good newspapers.  Never complain if your story does not appear as you wanted it.  Learn from the experience — and smile.

Say Thanks:  When a story is particularly well done --  write a letter to the reporter's boss. That's even better than a letter to the writer.  It is a good idea to send a letter even if the story was just adequate.  Don't thank reporters for the story -- that's their job.  Thank them for their ability to provide insightful coverage of a complex, sensitive, difficult topic, etc.

Know Deadlines: News people can get really cranky when they are on deadline. Make sure you know when deadlines are before calling.

One Release Per Publication: Never send a story to two different editors at the same paper. For example, it might seem logical to send a copy of your release to both the travel editor and the sports writer. If you do, mark both copies clearly: "Action copy to travel editor — this for your information only," for example.

Remember that reporters and editors are busy and are nearly always pressed for time.  Appeal to their need to save time.  Give them what they need in the form they need it.

Most newspapers receive 10 times the amount of material they can use.  You are competing with all this. Fortunately for you, most of it is junk, such as:
• Blatantly commercialized items, with nothing of help to prospective clients.

• Stories which are not localized to a community publication.  A tour of your new facility is of little interest  to your local newspaper unless local people are significantly involved.

• Items which are just not news -- and not interesting either.

• News releases which are so sloppy they deserve no respect from the journalist.

Most people over-do press kits. Don’t get carried away in the amount of material you send the news media. Consider these contents, in electronic WS Word form:
•  News release                                                                                                       
•  Feature release
•  CD containing photos with cutlines                                                                                               
•  Brochures
•  Biographies                                                                                                        
•  Charts, diagrams
•  Event or tour schedule                                                                                             
•  Map to site

Here are the steps involved in creating a feature release:
•  You develop an idea.
•  You draft all the information available:  Who, what, where, when, why, and how.
•  You call the editor and explain your idea.
•  You are told "We'll take a look at that."  (Gushing enthusiasm from an editor.)
•  Consider using the help of a senior public affairs professional at this point.
•  The story is written and approved by your key people.
•  Determine what photographs can be provided, and who can supply them. 

•  The story is delivered to the publication.    You mark it "Special to _______."  Include photos if possible. 

•  Wait the agreed-upon time--two weeks is ideal.

•  If it is used, great. If partly used, the story can be re-written for some different kind of publication.

•  If you are turned down, you can get back on the phone and call your second choice.  Then re-do the "special to" on page one and repeat the last four steps.  If possible, find out why your story is rejected.  If your story is a good one, you're likely to place it.

A good news item contains most of these characteristics:
Timeliness      Proximity        Significance      Prominence

A story is enhanced if, in addition, it shows progress, has suspense, contains oddity, conflict and humor.  In addition, it should contain human emotions. Human interest is always welcome. This includes children, animals, the family, life-saving actions, all have great appeal.

They are almost always unnecessary or grossly overdone. If you are involved in one, make sure the news being presented is truly timely and cannot be presented to the news media fairly any other way.  Most of these events are ego exercises for management.  Be careful not to get caught in one that is poorly planned.

There are hundreds of publications in the U.S.   Many are pleased to obtain the kind of information you could provide.  Publications have various kinds of editors. You should be careful in selecting the one most likely to be interested in your news or feature.  Interest varies from article to article,  however.  Editors can specialize in business,  finance, medicine, sports, travel, political, social, military, real estate, entertainment -- at major metropolitan papers the list becomes quite long. 


1. BE HONEST. Reporters can tell — they make their living talking to people. 
It's OK to say "I don't know." Find out — and call back.

2. CALL THEM BACK. Not after lunch, not after a coffee break— do it immediately.  The media lives and dies on deadlines. Miss a deadline and you can forget some stories.

3. IT'S A MUTUAL-AID SITUATION: You are not doing the media a favor.
If you want coverage — hustle.

4. REPUTATION: Make your name stand for a good story every time.


In all news media interviews, you have some basic rights. Don’t expect the journalists to tell you what they are.  Keep this list in your desk for quick reference.

• You have the right to know who is interviewing you and whom they represent.

• You have the right to total agreement about interview ground rules with the journalists no matter how hastily arranged.

• You have the right to be treated courteously. The questions can be tough but the reporters manner should not be abusive.

• You have the right to  make “off-the-record” comments, if previously so agreed.  It is best never to say anything off the record, however.

• You have the right to physical comfort during the interview.  This includes appropriate site, comfortable chair, make-up and the cooperation of the media crew.

• You have the right to not be physically threatened or impaired by television cameras and lights being placed too close to you, or having microphones shoved in your face.

• You have the right to know about how long the interview will last.

• You have the right to break off the interview after a reasonable amount of time, but only after important questions have been answered.

• You have the right to know the general content, theme, subject or thrust of the interview so you have time to research the appropriate information.  Often the journalist already knows what he or she wants you to say before the interview.  Dig to determine this view to protect yourself.

• You have the right to have a public relations specialist or other company representative present.

• You have the right to know what other guests may be on the program and what their role will be.

• You have the right to make your own audio or videotape of the interview, or to obtain a complete tape from the station or network interviewing you.

• You have the right to be allowed to answer without being harassed with interruptions, when your answers are brief and to the point.

• You have the right to ignore pejorative asides or so-called editorial comments by reporters or panelists.

• You have the right to have the basic intent and flavor of your answers to come through in the final version.

• You have the right to have time to get some of your points across in the interview, and not be expected to answer all questions obediently and obsequiously.

If we can help you — please contact us
If you have any questions about the material above,  or on any aspect of marketing communication, we welcome an opportunity to speak with you.


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