On the last Occupy Supply Skill Share: How to Write A Press Release, FDL Press Secretary Christina Siun O’Connell shared a wealth of knowledge with us. Christina gave an overview of the media outreach process from before you write your release to how to develop relationships with media.
The presentation began with the purpose of telling media about your actions. Is what you are telling doing newsworthy? What is the message that you want to get across and who do you want to receive?
Press releases need to have catchy headlines and include who, what, when, where, and why. Being concise is key; brief and to the point and interesting is what gets the medias attention. If you have information that you would like the press to have but should not be released until a later date you can identify it as embargoed information; make sure to give an embargo date for release.
After going through the logistics of writing a release, Christina went into the difference between a press release and media advisory. Before sending out a press release, it is often helpful to send out a media advisory to let the media know about an upcoming action or event and follow it up with more specific informatio in a press release. In addition to general information, Christina also pointed out that it can be good to have a background boilerplate or general description of your organization and purpose to add to all releases.
Without a good press list and knowledge of who to reach out to the message is irrelevant. Reaching out to as many media outlets as possible is imperative. To do this you need to build a press list of emails, phone numbers, twitter accounts, etc. of news desks, individual reporters and influencers. An influencer is some one who may not necessarily be part of media but has an effect on the issue. Being aware of editorial calendars and other community events can also further the response to your outreach. Always remember to proofread and spell check your work thoroughly. It is important to see if the AP and Reuters use daybooks in your area that you can submit information about your event to.
The conversation wrapped up with a couple final points: don’t forget to pick up the phone and keep track of your work. Too often we rely on email and social media to communicate when nothing can replace a good old-fashioned phone call. Contacting media directly is a good way to follow up to make sure your release has been received and gauge how interested the media outlet is in covering your story. Keeping track of the media contacts, stories published or aired and notes on the process are the key to continually improving relationships and the response to your outreach. After the presentation, Christina fielded questions from Occupiers about past and future actions and issues with getting media to cover stories. Issues ranged from what to do on site pre and post action to timing of distribution. We want to thank Christina for joining us and all those who participated.