Posts tagged ‘Media Relations 101’

Writing Effective Email Press Releases

The basic tool used in public relations is the press release. Ultimately, the goal of a press release is to convince the media to do a story. At one time, press releases were printed on paper, however, today press releases are most often exchanged electronically.

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The email press release is now the format preferred by most reporters. While some basic information has remained the same in the electronic press release, an email press release differs somewhat from a printed press release.

First, try to avoid attachments to your press release. Unless the reporter is actually expecting the attachment, all releases should be made within the body of the email text message. Firewalls at some news organizations will automatically block an email with an attachment.

Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford FitchThe subject line of the email should replace the headline. This is the most important line of your press release and you have an extremely small amount of space to grab the reporter’s attention. At most, you have five words to sell the story, so choose them carefully.

One of the advantages of the email press release is that you can include URL links to more information. When it comes to the basic format of the release, remember to keep contact information at the top of the release, followed by the headline and then the body of the press release. While email may be a slightly different format, reporters are still accustomed to the traditional paper format.

Make sure you never include any text formatting, such as underline, bold or tabs as some email programs ignore them. If you need to use bullets, use stars or dashes. The entirety of your release should be kept to a minimum of 500 words and between four and six paragraphs.

Always test out the release by sending it to yourself first.

Finally, if you are going to send the release out to more than one reporter, include the addresses as blind cc’s. Never make the mistake of broadcasting a reporter’s email address.

To learn more about the best way to craft press releases and other media relations tips, sign up for TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals, or the 2-day Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 2.5 Email Press Releases

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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5 Mistakes to Avoid in a Crisis

Trying to avoid a crisis with the media may be well and good, but the fact is that a crisis can not always be avoided. When one does occur, it is essential to know how to handle it, and, as importantly, what you should not do.

Le policiers ont repoussé les personnes bloquées dans bellecour.
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1. Ignore the problem
One of the most common reactions to a crisis is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This rarely works, especially when it is a media crisis. When you have a crisis, you must meet it head on and deal with it immediately.

2. Not changing your decision making model
One of the most common mistakes organizations make is to try to overcome the problem by working harder. Whenever there is a communication crisis, a team that is already overworked suddenly must take on even more of a burden. To effectively deal with the crisis, new decision making protocols must be established. In some cases, you may need to form a completely separate Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford Fitchcommunications team to specifically address that crisis.

3. Allowing lawyers to direct public relations policy
While it may be advisable to have the best attorney representing you if you go to court, when you are facing a crisis in the media you need an expert on the court of public opinion. Choose the right advocate to handle the right battleground.

4. Withholding information
If you attempt to withhold information, it will eventually come out. When that happens, it will add to the crisis and make it appear as if you are trying to hide something.

5. Not immediately correcting errors
The public understands that people are human and will, from time to time, make mistakes. When a mistake is made during a communications crisis, it is going to be amplified. If you say something erroneous, do not hesitate to correct it immediately. Failure to do so will only cause reporters to believe that you misled them on purpose. The result? They might just tell a few million listeners or readers that you deliberately deceived them. It is far better to come clean and own up to your mistake and correct it on your own.

To learn more about how to effectively handle a media crisis, consider TheCapitol.Net’s Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 12.15 Eight Mistakes to Avoid in a Crisis

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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The Importance of Online Communication for Advocacy and Legislative Affairs

Politics as a whole has been completely transformed by the emergence of the Internet. While pre-Internet forms of media still continue to dominate Washington, there is little doubt that online communication is having an impact. Today the Internet and associated online tools of email, blogs and other social media are considered to be indispensable tools for anyone involved in public affairs. These cost-effective methods are able to reach millions of people almost instantly.

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There are several important differences between older forms of media and newer, online forms of media. One of those differences is that online communication greatly increases the complexity of messages. While traditional forms of communication allowed for two or three core messages, we can now have multiple messages using online communication.

In addition, message delivery can now be completely unfiltered as a result of the ability to communicate online. This was not the case with traditional forms of media, in which communication was filtered directly by the media. While messages featured centralized control in the past, today that centralized control has been removed in online communication.

Another important difference between traditional forms of media and online communication is that interactive communication is now possible. The receiver can communicate with the sender. In the past, only one-way communication was possible. This has made it much easier for the public to become involved in issues that affect them on a daily basis.

In order to compete in today’s environment it is imperative that you have a comprehensive understanding of the tools available to you. Trying to navigate the world of public policy and politics while using strategies Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford Fitchfrom yesterday is one of the fastest ways you can find to be ignored.

Developing an online communication agenda ensures that each of your public policy issues blend seamlessly with your offline goals. These goals typically include the promotion of an agenda, increasing membership or followers, enhancing productivity, feeling invested in a cause, and raising money.

To find out more about how you can use online communication methods to further your cause or issue, consider TheCapitol.Net’s Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals course and our Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

TheCapitol.Net also has Capitol Learning Audio Courses that can help you learn more about how best to use different tools and techniques to communicate more effectively.

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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