At the most recent meeting of the Del Rio News-Herald’s Readership Advisory Board, we discussed the challenge of publishing breaking news and community events in a timely manner within a five-day publishing week. Reporters Karen, Atzimba, Brian, and Rubén do an amazing job gathering stories and following up on leads. However, they are dependent upon others to help them get the information they need.
Honestly, the reporters cannot possibly be expected to run around collecting information about upcoming events for the myriad organizations in this town. Thankfully, there are the Calendars – Ongoing and Daily. This is where any organization can let folks know about the basic Who, What, When, Where facts for their upcoming events. However, the calendars do not have enough space to answer the Why adequately.
To get to the “why is this happening” and the “why should I care” requires someone to write a press release. Newspapers like ours depend upon press releases for local events. I believe every organization should include someone who can write a press release. Let me share some tips on how to get your upcoming newsworthy events into the paper:
• Write it yourself. Don’t expect the newspaper staff to write it for you – they don’t have time. Besides, do you really want to trust someone else to write your information correctly?
• Be sure to include a date by which you would like this news item printed so readers have plenty of time to consider and plan to attend your event.
• Write your own headline – keep it short and “catchy” to grab a reader’s attention. However, realize that the editor may need to edit it (as well as your press release).
• The first sentence should state what is happening and the next sentence should give more details. Keep the sentences short. Make sure that readers can get the gist of your event in that first paragraph – Who, What, When, Where. (This paragraph is basically what would go in the Calendar.)
• The most important W is the Why. Sell your event. While this is not an advertisement, it should still encourage, inspire, and excite readers to want to participate.
• Don’t forget to include contact information for readers who need more information.
• Send those press releases to email@example.com
Here is the answer to that problem of seeing pictures in the DRNH for a past event and wishing more people had known about it ahead of time.
Write your own press release. Then, the next time someone sees pictures of your event after the fact, they will realize, “Oh yeah, I remember reading about that in the Del Rio News-Herald.”