14 C H A P T E R News Releases, Media Alerts, and Pitch Letters
Topics Covered in Chapter 14 • The News Release • Publicity Photos • Mat Releases • Media Alerts and Fact Sheets • Media Kits • Pitch Letters • Distributing Media Materials
The News Release • The news release or press release was created by Ivy Lee in 1906. • A news release is a document whose primary purpose is the dissemination of information to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations and magazines. • The media rely on news releases for two reasons: • (1) Reporters and editors spend most of their time processing information, not gathering it. • (2) No media enterprise has enough staff to cover every single event in the community.
The News Release cont. • Before writing a news release, a number of questions should be answered to give the release direction and purpose. • What is the key message? • Who is the primary audience for the release? • What does the target audience gain from the product or service? • What objective does the release serve?
The News Release cont. • A news release is written like a news story in “inverted pyramid” style. • The format and content of news releases for distribution via e-mail and the Internet are somewhat different than the traditional news release.
Publicity Photos • Both print and electronic news releases are often accompanied by a photo. • Publicity photos are not published unless they appeal to media gatekeepers. • There are eight elements of a publicity photograph that PR professionals should consider: • Quality (5) Composition • Subject matter (6) Action • Scale (7) Camera Angle • Lighting (8) Color
Mat Releases • A variation of the photo release it the mat feature release. • It was originally called “mat” because it were sent in • mat form ready for the printing press. • It is different from a press release because a feature angle is usually used instead of a lead that gives a key message. • The concept is to provide helpful consumer information and tips about a variety of subjects in an informative • way with only a brief mention of the nonprofit or corporation that has distributed it.
Media Alerts and Fact Sheets • Public relations staff send a memos to reporters and editors about a news conference, interview opportunity, key appearance in the media by an individual or upcoming event that they may wish to cover. • These media alerts also are referred to as media advisories and are in short, bulleted items.
Media Alerts and Fact Sheets cont. • Fact sheets are often distributed to the media as part of a media kit or with a news release to give additional background information about the product, person, service, or event. • Fact sheets are usually one to two pages in length and serve as a “crib sheet” for journalists when writing. • A fact sheet about an organization may use headings that provide (1) the organization’s full name, (2) products or services offered, (3) its annual revenues, (4) the number of employees, (5) the names and one-paragraph biographies of top executives, (6) the markets served, (7) position in the industry, and (8) any other pertinent details.
Media Alerts and Fact Sheets cont. • A fact sheet about an organization may use headings that provide: • The organization’s full name • Products or services offered • Its annual revenues • The number of employees • The names and one-paragraph biographies of top • executives • (6) The markets served • (7) Position in the industry • (8) Any other pertinent details
Media Kits • A media kit or press kit, is usually prepared for major events and new product launches. • Its purpose is to give editors and reporters a variety of information and resources that make it easier for the reporter to write about the topic.
Media Kits cont. • Basic elements of a media kit are: • The main news release • A news feature about the development of the • product or something similar • (3) Fact sheets on the product, organization, or event • (4) Background information • (5) Photos and drawings with captions • (6) Biographical material on the spokesperson or chief • executives • (7) Some basic brochures
Pitch Letters • A pitch occurs when public relations practitioners and publicists write a short letter or note to the editor that tries to grab their attention. • Public relations people also use pitches to ask editors to assign a reporter to a particular event, to pursue a feature angle on an issue or trend, or even to book a spokesperson on a forthcoming show.
Distributing Media Materials • News releases, photos, and media advisories are distributed via five major methods: • First-class mail • Fax • E-mail • Electronic wire services • Web-based newsrooms