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Working with WKU Media Relations - How to get the word out
The news release is an effective tool for communicating with various audiences, but only if done correctly. The Office of Media Relations has the media contacts and the means for disseminating the information. By following a few tips, you can help provide the needed information in a timely manner and increase the chances that the release will make a difference.
For examples of the information we need and the writing style used, visit www.wku.edu/news.
Here are some hints of how to get the word out about your event, and how WKU News can help.
Use Your Channels
Sometimes the best way to get the word out is to use the channels you already have available! We encourage you to use the channels at your disposal (like your website and your social media accounts) to get the word out about news and events in your department.
Each departmental website on the WKU.edu domain comes equipped with optional News and Calendar Modules that serve as a great way for you to post news and information on your website. When posting news and events to your website, you are provided with a link to your specific event or news item that you can then share on your own social media channels.
If you alert us at WKU News, we will be happy to subscribe to your News or Calendar Module(s) and to share your social media posts via various WKU News media outlets.
To add a News Module or a Calendar Module to your website, please have your Main Site Contact email email@example.com. If you do not know who your Main Site Contact is, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timing is Important
If possible, share information at least two weeks in advance. If you are promoting an event, you increase the chances that your audience will see it in time to participate and that the media will see it in time to cover it.
If you add an image to your text description, your news piece will be more likely to attract attention and to be clicked on and shared.
Create a MAP: Message, Audience and Purpose
What is the message you want to convey? Who do you want to see the message? What to you hope to accomplish with the release?
Know your message. The message can be as simple as giving the details of an event or more complex such as announcing a new degree program. Knowing your message will help you focus on the important information.
Knowing your target audience is important in determining how and where you present the information. Who do you want to see your release?
Why do you want to issue the release? Are you looking for someone to attend an event? Do you want to impress prospective students with an achievement? (Keep in mind that while releases can help increase awareness of events, they do not take the place of more targeted marketing techniques.)
Some required information differs with each release, but the basics remain the same:
- Who is involved
- What is going on
- When will it take place
- Where will it happen
- Why (a big one), and
- How can someone find out more
If the release is about student accomplishments, provide as much information about the students as possible, particularly hometowns. This allows us to target the newspaper back home. Local connections are important to media outlets.
Provide a Contact
Someone who is willing and available to answer questions. Include phone and email and a URL to a website where people can learn more.
Write Like a Journalist
If you are providing the information in the form of a written release, try to present it in a journalistic style, aka inverted pyramid. That means putting the news, or most important information, first, followed by supporting information. Attention spans and news space are both in short supply, so skip the fluff and get right to the news. And keep it simple. Technical jargon may be impressive to your peers, but are they your audience? If not, write so everyone can understand.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Not every release will make the front page (or even the newspaper for that matter). Media Relations has a host of venues for news, so don't be disappointed if you don't see your release in the daily newspaper. It may still be found online, in blogs, on social media sites, etc. Also, we encourage you to post information to your website. If someone is looking for information about your program, they are more likely to search your website, not our news site. Sometimes the most visible and successful way to get the word out is to use the channels you already have.
Now that you know what information to provide, what do you do with it?
The easiest way to communicate with the Media Relations team is via email. Email gives us the chance to review the information in a timely manner (even when we're out of the office), and it is easy to "cut-and-paste" the information into our news release template.
The information you provide may be used to create a news release, which can be sent to media and posted online; used to create a pitch or news tip for selected reporters; or used as a possible story for the weekly video feature "View from the Hill."
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