Wednesday, 23 April 2014
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Information Sheet - Media Guide 8 - The A-Z of news Print E-mail

Media Guide 8 - The A-Z of news
No matter what story, event or issue you want to promote, you need to think of the ‘hook or ‘angle’ that will catch the attention of the media, and their listeners/readers.  This is what will make your item newsworthy, relevant and interesting.

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The A-Z of news

The A-Z of news

Your organisation’s 10th, your 100th carer or tie in with a ‘famous’ anniversary, eg St George’s Day.

There are designated years, weeks or days you can use to publicise your work eg Friends Week, Health Month, Year of the Volunteer, Volunteer’s Week, Make a Difference Day, World Aids Day etc.

Most campaigns reflect the ‘conflict’ and ‘controversy’ headings further down this page.  By their very nature, they are fighting against or for something, and that is usually news.

A famous face is always news, whether they are taking part, endorsing or going public with their own personal experiences.  A high profile celebrity will almost always guarantee you coverage, but they could also cloud the message.  You have to make sure your story does not become secondary to the famous face supporting it.  It can take a lot of time and effort to reach the most popular celebrities who are, unsurprisingly, very busy people.  You need to be sure it will be worth it.  Many stories are strong enough to stand on their own, especially if you enhance the content and provide a brilliant image to illustrate it.

‘Never work with children or animals’ was coined because they always steal the limelight, which is perfect for the visual media such as TV and photographs.

Not necessarily fighting or wars.  There can be conflict between a local council and a community, between government and pressure groups, or between developers and environmentalists.

Your own work or campaign may stimulate controversy or you may want to react to controversial changes in the law or an advertising campaign.

Lives or livelihoods at risk, communities under threat, health and community safety issues.

Better to promote an event before it happens or when it happens, rather than after the event.  Always emphasise the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.
Geography Local news is what local newspapers are all about.  But that doesn’t stop you finding an angle for wider coverage.  For example, if your new volunteer project covers Norwich, but the co-ordinator is from Cambridge, send a press release to both areas.  A good basic rule is if you are sending information to a paper covering a particular area, you must mention that area in your first paragraph.

Announcements that affect your work like ministers in attendance.

Happy endings
There may be a happy ending in response to previous coverage – if so, tell that story.  Or, alternatively, it may simply be a good example of your ongoing work.

Help needed/offered
Appeals for money or help, or a new expanded service.

Human interest
The personal stories and experiences behind any statistics or campaign are what makes for readers’ interest and understanding.

A personal letter written and signed by a celebrity supporting your event/cause accompanied by a photograph is a good way of getting into local media. Link with national / international story. This can be the fact that a celebrity has become a single parent, or a major world disaster elsewhere.  You need to be constantly aware of what’s going on, and looking for ‘angles’ to get your own message across.

Whether it’s being cut, raised, lost or needed – money is always an issue.

It is often not enough that something is new (because very little is); you need to highlight other angles and differences.

The opening of a new service, building and offices can be news, but you need to shore up the opening itself with a happening/celebrity/event/publicity stunt.

Offering members of the public opportunities to better themselves, their lives, or their community.

A quick look through any newspaper will reveal a great many stories that are not particularly newsworthy but that get coverage because they are accompanied by a great picture.

Publicity Stunts
Think of something visual and exciting to liven up even the most mundane event, or boring statistic.  Use humour (where appropriate), local drama groups or street theatre.

Not necessarily rude, but the closing of a village hall or cuts in services.

Success story/achievements
Celebrate achievements of members of staff, volunteers, clients, and the organisation.

Oldest, highest, first, last, longest etc.

Not because they have been done, but the results can provide good news/feature stories.

For example, when someone famous announces his or her retirement or new government statistics are released.

Unusual or bizarre
Events, facts or personal stories.

Any competition winners, awards etc.


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