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Unit Publicity Made Easy

A Little Good Publicity Goes A Long Way

With all of the tasks a Boy Scout leader must undertake, one that most often is forgotten is that of publicity. it's often the last thing - if at all - thought about when planning events but sometimes it can be the most important.

The general public needs to understand the values, the benefits and the fine works of the Boy Scout movement, We depend on them for support, for fund-raising and other assistance in our programs. And, of course, all of us are the public as well, and it is important that good works and achievements be recognized.

This instructional article is designed to instruct you on how to get the good news about your Scouts into the newspapers It's not particularly difficult with a small amount of investment needed in terms of time. it just takes your creativity and energy.

The following guidelines on placing news releases have been developed to improve your success rate in writing and placing information. Media to target include:

· Newspapers
· Magazines
· Newsletters and bulletins
· Community directories
· Radio
· Television, including cable television

The Making of a News Release

By definition a press release is simply a statement prepared for distribution to the media. The purpose of a press release is to give journalists information that is useful, accurate and interesting.

The news release is your primary tool. It is the main channel through which publicists send out messages to the public via the media.

General Rules of Thumb for News Releases

· Always type a news release. Releases should be double-spaced with 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.

· Brevity is the key. Try to limit releases to one or two pages. A news release should not exceed 500 words. A straightforward and concise writing style is the objective. Use short, clearly written paragraphs.

· Never split a paragraph at the end of a page.

· Type “–MORE–” at the bottom of a page when the release is more than one page in length.

· If a release is more than one page in length, put an abbreviated headline and page number at the top of each page following page one.

· Type “###” to signify the end of the release.

· Clarity, accuracy, grammar, and neatness are vital. Verify all names, addresses, and facts before distributing the release.

· Avoid the use of clichés, jargon, or fancy phrases.

· Don’t use flowing tributes, flowery descriptions, or glowing adjectives when writing your news release. The news release should be more informative than subjective. Be impartial and objective; try to write the release as the reporter might.

· Use first and last names on first reference. Use last names only on subsequent references. Include titles and descriptions, such as district chairman, or a person’s hometown or age. Provide full names of groups with appropriate descriptions.

· If an editor must choose between two otherwise equal releases, he or she is more likely to pick the release that has an accompanying photograph. If including a photograph with your release, make sure it will capture the interest of the reader. Every photograph should include a complete and correct caption that identifies each person and the action in the photograph. Your photograph file should include the following information on each photograph: source, date taken, copyright information, and releases signed by people in the picture.

· Put the local news angles at the beginning of a release if the story covers an area beyond the community’s borders or newspaper’s circulation area.

· Include a good quote from Scouts, volunteers, or local distinguished individuals early in the story.

· Add boilerplate material. This is general information about the Boy Scouts of America that help people understand the importance and relevancy of Scouting. For example, “Scouting has had more than 100 million members since its inception in 1910.”

Writing the Press Release

Your unit's name, web address, location address and phone number should be printed clearly at the top of the page. PRESS RELEASE should be spelled out in all CAPS and centered in bold. The press release contact person's name should be underneath the wording and all contact numbers printed clearly underneath. If the press release is for IMMEDIATE RELEASE, say so, on the left margin directly above the title in all caps.

The next essential component of the press release is the Headline or Title. It should be centered, and in bold. The heading of the press release should capture the journalist. The title of the press release should be short and snappy, and hopefully grabbing the attention of the journalist and impressing them enough to read on.

You are now ready for the useful, accurate and interesting BODY of the press release. The body of the press release begins with the date and city for which the press release is originated. The body of the press release is very basic; who, what, where, when and why. The first paragraph of the press release should contain in brief detail what the press release is about. The second paragraph explains,in detail: who cares; why you should care; where one can find it; when it will happen. Also, included in the second 'informative' paragraph is generally a quote that gives the release a personal touch. Touchy-feelies go a long way with journalists. Press releases and news stories are boring to journalists without a 'human interest'. The third and generally final paragraph is a summation of the release and further information on your company with the company contact information clearly spelled out.

The content of the press release, beginning with the date and city of origin, should be typed in a clear, basic font (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) and double-spaced. If your press release exceeds one page, the second page should indicate ' Page Two' in the upper right hand corner. Journalistic standards have set basic parameters to define the end of a press release: ###. Three # symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release indicate the end of a press release.

The next time you are tasked with writing a press release for your unit, have no fear, the basic rules are clear: useful, accurate and interesting information portrayed within the set journalistic guidelines.

Example of an Eagle Ceremony Press Release

Example of a Scouter Recognition Press Release

Examples of a Scouting Event Press Release

Examples of General Scouting Press Releases

Example of a Letter to the Editor

Working With The Press

Your interest, enthusiasm, ingenuity, and skills will help you greatly in your job as public relations representative. In addition, we would like to offer you some pointers which will help you develop good press contacts.

MOST IMPORTANT Always supply honest and accurate news materials.

Read your community newspaper(s). Study them to find what kind of stories and/or photographs they use. Think in terms of what the newspapers want, not what you want them to use.

Learn as much as you can about the media in your area - deadlines. editorials, policies. editors. Keep an up-to-date file on media contacts.

Know an editors working schedule. Avoid calls or visits unless absolutely necessary and especially during deadline hours. Your contact will be under a lot of pressure and will not be receptive to requests.

Do prepare in advance. Allow enough lead time when contacting a newspaper with your story. Usually two weeks.

Find out how a newspaper wants the information submitted, i.e., find out what can be called in and when, what needs to be mailed in, and what should be hand delivered.

Avoid questioning an editor about when a story will run or why it did not. You cannot make demands. A newspaper has to set priorities and it does have limitations. The Boy Scouts (you, in this case) are competing for space with whatever the news of the day or week may be. There are plenty of other organizations who are also seeking publicity space. Therefore, the press releases you write must be good. In asking "when will it run?' you are questioning an editor's news judgement and that does not help build a good press contact. However, if a newspaper repeatedly fails to run material you submit, there is no harm in asking the editor for advice. Continue to submit Boy Scout news keeping in mind the advice you received from the editor.

Avoid asking for press clippings or photographs.

If an error has been made, let the newpaper know. Errors do occur and the paper wants to correct any problems.

Remember to thank people for good coverage. A short note of thanks to publishers, editors, reporters and photographers is always welcome.

Send only one release to each publication. If for some reason you do furnish duplicate releases, let the recipients know; for example, write: "Note: Also sent to (name)"

NOTE: Send copies of all releases/clips to the Council and District marketing/public relations director.

How to Generate Publicity (PDF) a Learning for Life - Exploring Resource

List of Local Media Organizations