Goff Public has been a trusted advisor to us for many years. They help us turn the interesting things that are happening at Saint Mary’s University into memorable stories that get the attention of the media and our key audiences.
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When an organization has news or a story idea to share with the media, oftentimes the inclination is to send a press release. But there are several ways to talk to the media, and it’s best to think of your goal first and how you communicate your information second.
If your goal is to get the media to attend an event, the most effective way is to send them a media advisory two-four business days in advance. An advisory is one page of the most important details, including:
1) What you’re inviting them to and why it is newsworthy
2) When the event is
3) Where to go; include a link with driving directions and a specific room if appropriate
4) Who will be speaking or present that makes this event noteworthy
5) Who to contact if you have questions about the event
Ideally a media advisory will attract the media to attend, write a story, and take photos or video.
If your goal is to introduce an idea to a specific reporter or a small number of targeted reporters, the best way is to e-mail a media pitch explaining your idea. For instance, if a new school program has achieved fast, measurable results and you want Twin Cities residents to know about it, your ideal target might be an education reporter at one of the daily papers. Gauge the reporter’s interest by e-mailing a one- to three-paragraph overview of the story. Give it a timely or noteworthy hook, and offer to schedule interviews with a variety of spokespeople.
Ideally the media pitch will encourage your preferred reporter to write a story or interview your expert on the air.
If your goal is to announce big news from your organization – like the announcement of a new facility, the hiring of a new CEO, the results of a poll, or the formation of a new partnership – you should send the media a press release. Sometimes news is best delivered through both a media advisory and press release. For example, you may want to unveil the drawings or a replica of a new building. In that case, invite the media to see the replica and talk to the architects, but also send a release so that your story is fully told and the information is simpler for the media to gather. Whenever possible, limit the release to one to one-and-a-half pages.
Know your targets
Regardless of which approach you use to communicate with the media, make sure you send it to the right people. If you’re celebrating the opening of a new clinic, talk to health care reporters. If your event is fairly small and in a smaller media market like Duluth, focus on Duluth – not statewide – media. And if your story is about someone winning an award, you probably don’t want to send it to TV news crews, because it lacks an audiovisual angle.
If you aren’t sure how to engage the media, contact the team at Goff Public. Knowing the right media targets and the right way to tell a story is our specialty!