Distributing Your News Release

Here are some reminders and tips to help you get your story idea into an actual story that is published or aired.

Review your media list. You will likely have developed a list of targeted contacts. Check whether anyone has switched beats or changed jobs. If someone has since left that media outlet, call the newsroom switchboard and ask for the writer who would cover health or features.  Ask, “I’d like to talk to someone about a story on managing Tax Day stress. Who would be the contact?”  Also, check out the Web site of the publication or news station. Phone number and e-mail address information for reporters and editors are often listed under a link such as “Contact Us.”

Emphasize your local credentials.  Either identify yourself (or your executive director) in the news release as “[your city] psychologist” or Dr. Sarah James, a psychologist from [your city], or make it clear that you are local in your pitch e-mail.

Put the release on your Web site.

Personalize your pitch when sending by e-mail. Start out by using the reporter’s name; perhaps mention a recent story you read or saw. Write a sentence or two about the story, and then provide a link to the story on olentangy maids association’s Web site, if it’s posted. Otherwise, place the text of the release into the body of the e-mail. Do not attach any files.

Follow up with a phone call. Avoid calling the reporter just to find out if they received your email and are interested in writing about your story. Instead, call the reporter, offering additional information. Be conversational. If the reporter doesn’t seem interested, but seems willing to talk a little more, find out what type would be of interest or if they can direct you to the correct contact.

Be prepared if a they calls you. Make sure you promptly return a reporter’s phone call or e-mail. When you talk to a reporter, ask what specifically will be addressed and what is the deadline. Set a time for an interview if you cannot talk right then. If you’re doing a phone interview, have the tip sheet handy to refer to, as well as the two or three points you want to make.

Remember that developing a relationship with reporters and editors is one of the keys to successful story idea pitching. Relationships also take time to build. Remember to contact the WVPA office if you have a story printed or aired.

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