Creating Media Materials
There are numerous materials that people use to communicate with the media. Some of the common tried-and-true staples that reporters of the media most often receive and expect are:
To see sample media materials related to section events and announcements, for advice on how to compose your media materials and for additional ideas, visit the PR Guidebook.
A press release is a short article (rarely more than one page long) written in a style similar to a news story, either about upcoming activities or announcements or a report about what occurred. Press releases are intended to give reporters and editors enough information about an event so they can decide whether to publish a story about it or perhaps even send someone to cover the event. Press releases should cover the following basic information:
- Date, time and location of event
- Names of all people and groups participating in the event
- One or two sentences on why a journalist would want to cover the event
- Information on any visual elements being displayed at the event
- Contact information for questions concerning the event
One of the simplest of publicity materials to prepare, media advisories alert reporters to an upcoming event or press conference. Media advisories often are used to invite reporters to attend and cover an event. If there will be photo or interview opportunities at the event, mention that in the media advisory. Advisories should be less than a page long and include the same basic information as press releases.
Letters to the editor should relate to an article that a newspaper or magazine has recently published and should either add information not mentioned in the article or counter an opinion that you do not agree with. A letter to the editor should be brief and to the point. Look at the letters that your local newspaper has printed and you will get an idea of what gets an editor’s attention.
Check and adhere to the newspaper's letter specifications, especially regarding word limits. Letters to the editor should be only a few paragraphs long (between 150 and 250 words); those that do get published are usually edited for space and style considerations. Write in short paragraphs (three sentences long) and include your contact information (name, address, phone number, email).
An op-ed is an opinion column typically carried opposite the editorial page; thus, the name. Newspapers have guidelines for op-eds, such as length (usually 750 to 1000 words), topic, timeliness and relevancy to its readers. Check with your local newspaper for its requirements and guidelines.
An op-ed is likely to be published if the opinion is unique, rather than just adding to the chorus of similar viewpoints. Another key factor in determining if an op-ed will be published is who wrote it. An op-ed authored by a well-known person or someone with considerable expertise in the topic area is likely to receive more consideration from the newspaper’s editors than a less-known or less-qualified person.
When submitting an op-ed article, draft a short cover note that includes the author’s contact information and reason for writing the piece. After sending your submission, follow up with a telephone call expressing your hope that the publication will publish the op-ed.
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