Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Part three of the "Born to be a star" series:

Rules of Engagement

Want to increase the profile of your church in the community, create a sense that it is a great place to be a part of and not spend a single cent on advertising?

Having your local media consistently report good news about your church will influence people to respond positively to invitations to your church and its various programs. And believe it or not, it can all be done for free.

It’s true that news in the papers, TV and radio are written by reporters. But it’s also true that a lot of them are written with the help of people just like you in the form of media releases.

Media releases are sent to reporters as a way of intriguing them and making them aware of a news event. It entices them into wanting to find out for themselves, either through attending the upcoming event or interviewing the individual featured on the release.

The good news is, you do not have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to write a media release. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules:
  • Entice the reader - Have the single most gripping point as near the beginning of your first paragraph as possible. It does not need to be clever or dramatic but should answer the “who”, “why”, “what”, “when”, “where” and “how” in approximately 25 words.
  • Inverted triangle rule -The most important points should be as near the top of your media release as possible. When editors run out of space, the last paragraphs of a news story are the first to go. Therefore write your media release in a descending order of importance like an inverted triangle, leaving information that can be omitted in the last paragraphs.
  • Include quotes -News articles are meant to give facts and the reporter should not be giving their own opinions or making subjective comments. However, opinions like, “This will be the best event the church has ever organised,” are often more interesting than the facts themselves and the best way to present such statements is by quoting someone.
  • Contact number -Include a number for the editor or reporter to contact you for further information.
  • Plan in advance - Give the media at least two weeks’ notice, if possible, of the upcoming event.
  • Keep it short - Media releases should only be a page long.
  • Follow up - It doesn’t hurt to call the editor or reporter and ask if they’ve received your media release and were interested in following-up on the story.
Writing media releases is also a matter of practice. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

Why not start writing that media release for your local media now?

This is the third of a series entitled “Born to be a star” distributed to local church newsletters in Australia and New Zealand. Find out how to handle the media in the next entry.

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