ICN 3 Media Course – Spreading the News

Photos of people attract more readers. Image: The Radio Maria team have just moved to the Rosary Shrine

So you’ve written your press release – letting people know about an upcoming event in your parish, school, or organization – so what?

Although everyone in the media is moving very quickly – especially since the covid lockdown – some publications have disappeared – many more have sprung up – and with new media there are all sorts of new sites that may be very interested in your news. Journalists need you. They wouldn’t survive without people sending them information.

Due to privacy laws, I can’t provide you with a sample contact list, but you can create your own email list by following these tips:

1. local press – whether your local newspaper is in print or online – they are always on the lookout for local stories. They can also have a list section.

You can send your press release to the ‘news desk’ – or ‘news editor’ – but it’s better if you can send it to a named reporter. Once they have met you, you will appear in their address book!

2. Send on the right date. Online posts are often updated daily – so timing is not that important. But if you’re writing to a weekly or magazine, be sure to send your press release well before the publication deadline.

3. Catholic press – all the above rules apply.

4. Specialized media. There are publications – online and in print – covering just about every topic. So, with a little lateral thinking, you might be able to get your report on your local school’s new computers in a tech or education magazine. Housing magazines would like to hear about your parish project for the homeless. Magazines aimed at different age groups would be interested in articles on volunteering projects. Travel magazines might be interested in your pilgrimage this summer retracing an ancient pilgrimage route.

5. National media. Harder to get to, but if you have something a little different – a famous visitor, an unusual event or activity, give it a try. A few months ago, a primary school in the north of England contacted NASA astronauts to help them with a science project. They didn’t tell the press but I remember thinking what a cool story it was!

6. Your Diocese. Each diocese has a media officer and a website – with space for lists and news. Make sure you’re on their radar. They also have their own media contact lists – so if you send them a good press release, they might just put it out there for you.

seven. local radio – they are always keen to report on community events. Make sure they know yours.

8. Pictures. Include images in jpg format with any press release you send out, if you can. People might want to use their own – but if you provide one or two images (not too many) – according to a recent article I read – editors are seven times more likely to use an article with an image . Photos of people especially make the difference. (See image above).

9. Social Media – Once your press release is published – whether in a local, national or specialized online press – tell everyone about it on social networks. Twitter and Facebook are probably best for church news. You can do this on your personal social media accounts. If your parish, school or organization does not have a Facebook or Twitter account, check with them if they would like one. Not everyone does, but using social media wisely can really grow your following. Pope Francis posted brief notices on Twitter every day.

ten. Check the rules. You may not post photos of children without written permission from their parents. Make sure you know who took the photo and that you have permission to reprint it. Not everyone likes their photo or name published – so check that everyone is happy to be mentioned in a press release.

More next week.

Keywords: Media Courses, Media, News, ICN Media Courses

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