5.†Pitching for Different Media

The news release, the most common way in which you will communicate news, mostly serves print-based media such as newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Pitching stories for television and radio will be somewhat different.

5.1.†Print-based Media

Every publication has a lead time for accepting releases and pitches. Generally, daily and weekly newspapers have quite short lead times, while monthly or quarterly magazines may have a lead time of several months. Each publication will also have requirements regarding text and graphic formats. For instance, they may accept only plain-text documents with no formatting or require graphical files (such as photos) to be submitted in a particular file type and resolution.

Although you do not need to become an expert in desktop publishing and print production, having a general knowledge of these areas will be extremely beneficial. Familiarize yourself with commonly used text formats (such as Microsoft Word for print and HTML for the Internet) and graphical formats (such as eps, jpeg, and gif). For important communications, you may wish to engage the services of a copy editor, graphic designer, or other publishing professional.

The Internet today works similarly to the print media. Speed is paramount for this medium. News can be posted immediately, without waiting for the printing presses to roll. Space limitations are not as much of a concern as they are for print, and the online edition will often publish stories that do not fit in the printed edition.

Naturally, online editors prefer to receive your news electronically. Targeting the right online editors can result in almost immediate posting of your news. Be sure to build relationships with online editors as you would for print editors. The online world is a growing segment that you simply cannot afford to ignore.

5.2.†Television and Radio

Studies show that television has replaced newspapers as the primary medium from which people get their news. These studies also found that TV news had a much higher credibility rating than newspaper coverage. Thus, specialty TV programs may offer an excellent opportunity for communicating your story. Such shows may include: local TV news shows, programs produced by community TV stations, business or information technology shows, and educational shows.

Because television emphasizes visuals, you should look for stories and angles that permit interesting or engaging video footage. (There is nothing duller than ‚$=talking heads.‚$) TV news producers and editors like action, especially fast-paced action. They also favor stories with a local twist. Try and localize your story, which means making the news relevant and appealing geographically to the television station concerned.

Radio interviews are another excellent vehicle for publicizing your organization and activities. Contact your local radio station and pitch yourself as an interview candidate to the news director or assignment editor. Know that you must have a compelling and convincing answer to the question, Why should our listeners be interested?

In Chapter†4, Working with the Media, we further explore the characteristics of different media, so that you can customize your pitches to each one.