Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

The lead sentence of the pitch letter should be compelling. Don’t begin by introducing your organization or issue—instead, open with an interesting statistic or fact that makes the recipient want to keep reading: “Three miles of Spring Creek were threatened by development last year.” Keep the letter as short as possible and enclose relevant background material, such as brochures, pictures, or biographical information. Attach a fact or statistical sheet summarizing any pertinent and important facts. Provide a realistic estimate of how long an interview will take. Make follow-up calls a week or so after the letter is mailed to continue your communication process. If there is interest from a print medium, ask if a photographer will be assigned.

Media Advisories (see examples below)

Media advisories are used to invite the media to cover an event or activity. Advisories are usually sent to the city and photo editors of newspapers and to the news assignment desks of radio and television stations a few weeks be-fore the event. They include a simple who, what, why, when, and where in outline form, as well as suggested photo possibilities. Attach a fact or statistical sheet summarizing any pertinent or important facts. Follow up advisories with a telephone call a few days before the activity to find out who is coming. When working with the print media, ask if a photographer will be assigned. If you expect media representatives, be prepared to greet them and direct them to the action. Keep in mind that radio and newspapers can do interviews over the phone if they are not available at the time of an event—offer this to them as an option in the advisory.

Press Kits

A press or media kit should be prepared for major events such as a groundbreaking, large volunteer effort, or award ceremony—and distributed to selected editors and reporters ahead of time. It is a folder of information and materials about the event, its significance, and the people and organizations involved. Both expensive and simple kits can be used, but the event’s news value, not an expensive presentation folder, will determine the amount of coverage it receives. Label the outside of the folder with your organization’s name, address, and contact telephone number. Kits can contain:

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