Animal Writes
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23 April 2000 Issue
Help For Activists In Contacting The Media

by [email protected] 

Time and time again I read of abuse and other things happening in some area and wonder why the media haven't been notified. Sometimes the people involved tell me the media doesn't care or that they are controlled by the opposition (government, business, hunters, etc.) While there may be some control, it is not far reaching. In cases where local media cannot be made to inform the public on abuse issues, extend your contact beyond your immediate area. Send news releases to media all over the region -- or even the state. Major urban media is more apt to run stories than local when there are controversial issues.

In any case, there is a specific way to write news releases. Most people do not follow the best form -- and/or make them too long.

I am attaching a news release model form I designed for my students and one we use here in IL. Use this form when writing a news release whether it be to advise the medium of something or to give notice of a news conference.

The news conference is a very powerful way to get an issue before the press (and the public.) There, you can make your point, answer questions, show videos, photos, etc. At the conference, be sure to have a media-kit for each attendee. This should contain a statement of the issue, valid and verifiable proof (documentation) of the charges or assertions you are making, photos and video if available. It is also a good idea to have an expert present at the conference. This is a big media draw. If you are talking about the link between animal and people abuse, bring in an expert on the subject and mention he/she will be at the conference.

Hold the conference at a local motel meeting room or some other place easily accessible to attendees. Invite members of ALL media -- print as well as electronic.

For further help and to have any questions answered you can contact Robert at [email protected] I am a co-chair of a Political Action Committee that works only on animal issues and am a registered lobbyist in IL. We work with the media all the time

How To Build A News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: John Smith 312 555 1212

Julie Jones 312 555 1234



This is the format for a news release (sometimes referred to as a press release.) Note the short paragraphs and simple words. Here are some tips for writing great releases:

1. Keep the release to one page. Remember, media people get dozens of news releases every day. Make yours easy to read with short graphic paragraphs.

2. In your first paragraph give the main details. Remember the journalistic "what, who when where how." However, use a Tabloid technique to get their attention.

3. In writing the text remember to use text designed to agitate, penetrate, get attention. For instance, instead of writing, "Jones has beaten his child before, but the judge still said the child had to be returned to him." Write, "Judge Kelly, unconcerned with the childís welfare, ordered her returned to her abusive father."

If you would like to make a comment but donít know how to work it in, consider quoting someone. In some cases, writers design a statement and then ask someone they know if it would be okay to use their name in quoting. For example, letís say you wanted to blast the judge in the statement above. You could "quote" someone. E.g., A neighbor, Mary Wilson, is afraid for the childís life "That man has beaten that poor girl time and again. Itís just a matter of time before he kills her.." Remarked Wilson after the hearing. "What kind of screwball judge would do a thing like that?"

You see how this allows you to make powerful statements and do so in a way that is stronger and often more credible than a simple text paragraph.

Send your news releases via FAX to the Assignment Editor when sending to radio or television and to the Managing Editor for newspapers. Use a cover page or memo. You do not have to know the editorís names. Send them as soon as you feel media should know. If possible, send Sunday evening so that they are waiting when staff arrives Monday morning. In general, itís best to send your releases late at night for recovery early in the morning. (And the lines are less busy.)

It is always best to use a LETTERHEAD when sending news releases. If your group is too small to have letterhead stationary, you can devise one easily enough with your word

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