Stacey has been a journalist for nearly a decade, working most recently as the associate editor of the Miramichi Leader in New Brunswick.
Newspapers receive dozens of emails a day from groups looking for coverage or hoping to have someone write a story to promote an upcoming event. Want to set your proposal apart? These are the ways.
Don't Waste an Editor's Time
Nothing is more annoying than receiving an email that contains multiple attachments and very little explanation in the body of the message.
Let's say you're hosting a fundraising walk for an organization. It's fine to send a press release for the walk, and maybe another document with background information about the organization, and perhaps some other relevant information, but you should provide the most important information in the body of the email. A quick hello, and then something along the lines of this:
"Please find attached the information for the [title of event], which is taking place at [location] on [date], from [start time] to [end time]."
That way, an editor knows the pertinent information for scheduling, can pencil it in and can forward it to a reporter or photographer, who can begin researching and opening attachments.
And if there's something unique or exciting taking place, include that as well. If someone will be juggling fire at an event after lunch, for example, include that in the email.
If you don't keep the introduction short and simple, you risk an editor passing over a lengthy email they simply don't have time to read.
Include a Photo of Someone Doing Something
If you're hoping to have a newspaper provide coverage prior to an event, it's a good idea to include a related photo with your email. It could be something simple, like a volunteer selling raffle tickets, or someone sorting through boxes before a flea market, but providing a photo along with a press release increases the chance that a story will be written and a photo will be used if there is space for it.
In an ideal world, a reporter would have time to set up an interview and take a photo themselves, but this is not always possible. Providing options is helpful when asking for promotion.
For an idea of what an editor wants, take a look through the newspaper. Most photos only have a few people in them, not a large group, and something is usually happening(people are doing something, not posing for the camera). Make sure to include the names of everyone in the photo as well.
At the same time, don't get upset if the photo isn't used. Any coverage is good coverage when other organizations are competing for space.
Provide Appropriate Contact Information
Make sure organizers are accessible on the day of the event. That means providing cell phone numbers, and perhaps an additional contact should a reporter have questions regarding the event or its location.
If the media package is missing information, or a reporter can't find the event, or the time isn't correct, they'll need to contact the organizer for additional information. If the only phone number provided is for the organizer's office, they may move on to their next assignment of the day.
Provide Options for Ideal Coverage
Many times, an event may be taking place all day, but there are certain time slots that may be more interesting than others. For weekend events, photographers and reporters are looking for a good opportunity to take colourful and exciting photos and video to pair with a story, so providing a rough (or detailed) schedule makes it easier for a newspaper to plan other assignments.
If your event has a good opportunity for coverage in the morning and/or afternoon, be sure to let the editor know. They may have to choose between several events taking place at the same time. By providing a more flexible schedule, they can find a way to ensure your event makes the cut.
So the Newspaper Didn't Cover the Event: Now What?
If for some reason, whether it be a scheduling conflict or missing information, a representative from the newspaper didn't cover the event, you can always send an email afterward with details. If possible, you should try to provide the following:
- Event photos: Have a volunteer designated to take photos of the event.
- If the event was a fundraiser, provide details of funds raised.
- Provide a few brief paragraphs about what took place and who spoke at the event.
- Provide a contact person who can provide an interview if needed.
Also, be courteous. There are a number of reasons why a newspaper can't attend every event. Limited staff on weekends, along with busy schedules or unexpected breaking news, can make it difficult to provide every organization coverage.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.