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Appendix 6

Media Releases

The purpose of a media release is to put information out to the various media sources in a useable form. There are a variety of acceptable formats, all of which have some common elements. Some common elements of an effective media release and tips for including them are listed below. A good media release makes the reporter's job easier. Some might say that we are enabling laziness. Why not frame the issues, write the news and quote ourselves?

The media release on the next page was sited by the magazine Campaigns & Elections in its January 1992 edition, as being a positive example of a media release.

  1. Release date: You can put a date on the media release. You can write, "For Immediate Release".
  2. Contact information: Always include easy contact information for the reporter to follow up on the story. Include a day phone number of the contact person, most likely the candidate.
  3. Bold Headline: The headline on the media release is one of the first things an Assignment Editor or reporter will see. It will entice them to read on. A headline of "Candidate Seeks Mayoral Seat" is not as exciting as one that reads, "Socialist Seeks Mayoral Seat". Use strong and active words in the headline.
  4. Newsworthiness: If you can connect the major point in your media release to a larger issue, it will be defined as more newsworthy. If there is a national or regional connection, the chances will be greater that your media release will be picked up and utilized. For example, if one of your major campaign issues is a stronger human rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation as a protected class, you may want some statistics or examples from other communities that indicate a national trend.
  5. Quotes: Providing quotes makes the job of the reporter easier. They can print a story without ever having to contact you. It also helps ensure the accuracy of your quotes, since they have it in writing. This also allows you to see what your quotes look like in print and how they read. A quote designed for a reading audience might be structured differently than one designed for a listening audience. Never write a quote for someone else and use it in a media release without her/his explicit permission.
  6. "The End": You need to let the media know that they have the whole media release. Even if you number the pages (press releases are typically one page long), put an indicator at the bottom that it is the end. Some examples-all of which would be centered on the bottom of the page -- "The End", "-30-", "#####".
  7. Getting it to the media: You can snail mail, fax, email or personally deliver media releases. It is best to ask each media outlet about their preference. Many prefer electronic communication, as they can easily cut and paste it into their system.
  8. Using the media to help you stay on message: Having the media release on hand to refer to in case a reporter calls is very helpful. It allows you to stay on message during an interview. Do not let the reporter get you off message. The media release can be highlighted so that you repeat your message at every turn, do not stray from your message and repeat your quote easily, as it is right in front of you. It will allow you to better control the interaction.

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