A Press Release is text prepared in a "just the facts" format that allows various news media to cover your story. A section at the bottom titled "Background" will allow you to supply a wealth of supporting detail including opinions about why the story is important. A well-written press release will be copied word for word by the media and may even bring reporters with cameras out to your event.
Your group/organization needs a name. "Fredericksburg Area for Bernie Sanders" would be the name I would use if I was going to do a press release for our local Bernie Sanders group.
ln order for a press release to be effective, you MUST have someone ready to answer the phone to talk to reporters. This contact person should be able to work with the group to modify details of the event to work with the media.
The media work on rigid time lines. If you time your event properly, working WITH the media, you can be the lead story on television the evening news, or the "live update" at noon. Have people ready to be interviewed who can explain why the event is important. Television loves a live story. You can be joyful, celebratory, angry, or challenging, but have some passion.
2. Elements of a Press Release [Title of Event] MEDIA CONTACT: [Name] [Organization Name] [Phone Number] [Email] [Date of press release] - - PRESS RELEASE WHAT: WHEN: WHERE: DETAILS: BACKGROUND:
EXAMPLE from a 2014 Press Release: Jill Stein to join 350 Eugene at Vigil to Block the Keystone XL Pipeline
Spokesperson: Michael Carrigan 541-555-1212
Back-up Media contact: Shelley Pineo-Jensen Chair, Eugene/Springfield Solidarity Network / Jobs with Justice firstname.lastname@example.org 541-555-1212
Feb. 28, 2014 -- Press Release Jill Stein to join 350 Eugene at Vigil to Block the Keystone XL Pipeline WHAT: 350 Eugene Vigil in Opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline WHEN: Monday, Mar 3, 2014 5:00 – 6:00 WHERE: Old Federal Building 211 E 7th St., Eugene, Oregon 97401
DETAILS: 350 Eugene is proud to announce that Jill Stein will be attending the Vigil in Opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline this Monday from 5:00 to 6:00 PM at the Old Courthouse Building at 211 E. 7th St. in Eugene. Former presidential candidate Jill Stein will be in Eugene to talk about a new campaign she is helping create: the “Global Climate Convergence” campaign, "Powering Up for People, Planet & Peace Over Profit", will kick off this spring from Earth Day until May Day.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON JILL STEIN: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20140227/pielc/former-green-presidential-candidate-comes-uo Former Green Presidential Candidate Comes To UO 2/27/14 by Kevin Sullivan Former presidential candidate Jill Stein will visit Eugene to talk about a new campaign she is helping create. The “Global Climate Convergence” campaign will kick off this spring from Earth Day until May Day. Stein, who is a medical doctor, will speak at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference held at the UO on both Friday and Sunday. “The minute I was invited I jumped at the chance. What a wonderful opportunity to talk to a dynamic, world-changing group of people,” Stein says. “The PIELC has a wonderful reputation of being at the leading edge of environmental justice and action.” The campaign that Stein will present to her audience involves the idea that all the different movements — labor, education, race, LGBT, environmental — need to come together in order to be successful. Stein says that once the movements come together, there will be a strong majority to change many policies in America. “We can have it all. We can have health care and education as a human right as well as a just, green, sustainable future,” Stein says. In order for this to happen, Stein says that people in different movements will have to overcome the “divide and conquer” strategy. “Essentially, we’re calling for nothing less than the Marshall Plan or the Manhattan Project,” Stein says. “If we did it for them, we can do it for us.” Stein joins the “Powering Up for People, Planet & Peace” panel 3:30 to 4:45 pm Friday, Feb. 28, in LAW 175 and is a keynote speaker at 12:15 pm Sunday at the UO law school. Free.
BACKGROUND ON KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/keystone-pipeline/ Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline The Keystone XL pipeline would transport toxic tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest 2,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico to be refined and exported. Approving the pipeline would bring increased production of one of the dirtiest, most polluting forms of oil over the coming decades. Tar sands oil is not only difficult, costly and energy-intensive to produce but also dirtier and more corrosive than conventional oil. Leaks and spills threaten rivers, aquifers and communities all along the route. Killing more jobs than it creates The tar sands pipeline that spilled a million gallons of toxic heavy oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River last summer illustrates the dangers this type of uniquely corrosive oil will bring along the Keystone XL route. According to the U.S. State Department the pipeline would create at most 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and would leave only "hundreds" of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are simply not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy. Tar Sands oil is the dirtiest oil on the planet Producing synthetic crude oil from tar sands generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. Extracting tar sands bitumen – a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel – uses vast amounts of energy and water. Canadian tar sands oil would be exported Keystone XL would have diverted Canadian oil from refineries in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast where it could be refined and exported. Many of these refineries are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil may be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes. The facts reveal this pipeline was never in America's national interest. Clean energy and fuel efficiency is the path forward for economic and energy security in America – not another tar sands pipeline. By rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama is helping move America down a cleaner, safer path.
3. Reaching Out
The goal of a press release is to get various media to cover your story
The relationships you build with reporters will pay off again and again. Be polite. Be honest. Don't waste their time.
Be organized and systematic - the contact information you collect is gold.
Collect all the data on a master spread sheet or word document with tables. At the top of the document create a list (which is updated to be valid) REMEMBER TO SEND OUT THE PRESS RELEASE BCC. To do otherwise reveals you as a rank amateur. If you put each email on a new line and then copy the whole thing and paste into the BCC section, your email system should be able to send to the entire list in one fell swoop. If there are any errors, you will either remove the error addresses and resend the whole - or not. Pay attention to the messages in your incoming email. You are not done when you hit "send" - you are just getting started.
Create a new data document for each event and post changes of contact information to the master document.
Working with a partner can be more efficient - follow up phone calls boost your chances of getting media coverage and of developing personal relationships with reporters.
Some of the work must be done early - getting on calendars for example.
Send out the press release early - a week before is good.
This is critical: RESEND IT early in the day on the day before the event - and perhaps even again on the morning of the event.
Follow-up phone calls after the first send can really boost your chances of coverage.
EXAMPLE of a data worksheet from 2014 created for Eugene, Oregon:
This is the piece where most organizations fail. CASH IT IN!
Your reporters are pushing deadline and if you do their job for them, you increase the chances of being in the news.
Write a follow up Press Release immediately after the event.
Take the original Press Release and change the pronouns to past tense.
ADD PICTURES, links to video clips, other coverage - anything you can to highlight that the event happened, what the message was, and why it is important.