Working with the Print Media
What is the Print Media?
The print media is composed of newspapers, community newsletters, wire services, magazines, and other publications. Within these publications, there are two main divisions of labor: reporting and editing. Reporters are the newspaper writers who investigate newsworthy events and interesting stories. Editors assign stories to reporters, edit story content, and decide which stories to print.
Why is the Print Media Important?
The print media is an effective way to alert the public to the Weatherization Assistance Program and its work. Readers often bypass paid advertising, but a story from an independent journalist increases public awareness and builds local credibility. The media reaches a broad audience of readers on a daily basis. Reporters and editors are always looking for interesting, newsworthy stories. Attracting media attention can help expand your influence and name recognition in target communities.
How do I Alert the Media to a Weatherization Story?
Reporters sometimes independently cover Weatherization stories, but you’ll increase your chances of coverage if you contact the newsdesk in advance. Tell them what the story is about and why it is newsworthy. There are four excellent ways of alerting journalists to Weatherization stories and events:
- Submit a press advisory in advance via email, fax, or hand-delivery. Following the event, submit a press release with a summary of the event. Note if photos or video footage are available.
- Pursue a professional relationship with reporters and editors. Network at community functions, invite them to lunch, or find other ways of meeting and speaking with members of news organizations, i.e. school board meetings, golf tournaments, basketball games, etc. If reporters know you personally, they are more likely to consider your story suggestions seriously.
- Call a news organization's story tip line. Most newspapers have informal, toll-free hotlines that record story ideas, which are then passed on to reporters. You can find the number in the newspaper or on the Web site. Also, many newspapers have special e-mail addresses specifically for story suggestions.
- Write the reporter a letter. Introduce yourself and your organization and explain your story idea. This is a low-pressure method that is useful for attracting press attention to feature stories that are not time-sensitive. Press letters tend to focus less on generating immediate coverage and more on educating reporters.