WORKING WITH THE NEWS MEDIA
There are advantages to building close relationships with members of both the campus and community press. A personal rapport with those individuals can only help the success of your activities. The most important thing to remember is plan ahead and get on the media schedule early in the year to get the best support and resource advice. Make sure that your press releases are written to conform to standard journalistic practices. Standard news media practice implies the use of the inverted pyramid story style. The summary lead, which should include (who, what, when, where and/or how), is at the beginning of the story. The first few paragraphs should answer as many of these questions as are relevant. This does not mean you should jam all of the facts into one long, involved sentence or paragraph. Publicity people, like other news writers, should strive for short, clear, one-idea sentences. As a general guideline, if your opening paragraph is longer than three typewritten lines, you might want to give it a second look. Can you be more concise? The main purpose is to grab the readers' attention and give them the vital information.
Keep your release short enough to fit on one page, double check your copy and make sure each person mentioned is adequately and accurately identified and that all names are spelled correctly. It is usually helpful if you enclose a cover letter with any additional information that would be helpful. In your cover letter, be sure to invite the media to your various events, and give a good contact name and number in case a reporter needs to get information in a hurry.
You might also ask your campus president to call a press conference where your committee and he/she announce campus goals for alcohol and substance abuse efforts for the academic year. The better able you are to portray your events as "news," the more likely you are to get attention.
By and large, the journalists to whom we have spoken about NCAAW are interested in the program and what it is trying to accomplish. But consistently, they want to know what is being done on a local basis, at schools in their area, to observe the week. That "in-my-backyard" focus places you, the local NCAAW committee, in the best position to generate media attention for your program - to ultimately inform the broader community about the positive, substantive steps our campus is taking to address the challenges of alcohol abuse prevention.
Certain FCC regulations require radio and television stations to make public service announcements about programs and events in the community. PSA's should be sent to radio stations at least two weeks prior to the time you want the announcement to be made. However, whether or not the announcements are made and the times they are made is at the station's discretion. A cover letter should be included with the PSA's giving a description and dates of the program and the name and number of someone to contact for more information.
These should be:
Typed, double-spaced on letterhead paper
No longer than two or three sentences listing bare facts
Sent no later than two weeks prior to the day you wish the announcements to be made