Press releases, media advisories, and statements are formal communication tools that your group can use to get its messages out to media. Think of them as the type of communication you have with reporters that goes out on your organization’s nice letterhead stationery.
Ideally, they’re just one way that you’re in touch with your media contacts. Pitching stories in more conversational emails and staying in touch in other ways are key to building relationships. (See: Tips From Journalists: How To Build Great Connections with Media.)
Reporters and media professionals have different feelings about these conventions. Some reporters kind of dislike them. Their inboxes are already swamped with so many press releases, they prefer a quick personal note more than anything. Some reporters really appreciate them; the press release puts all the information they need in one place, so they can grab quotes and background from them quickly for their story on a busy day. As you build your relationship with reporters, you can get a sense from them what they prefer.
Either way, these are great tools to have your toolbox.
Here are the tools we’re going to cover in this training:
- Press releases
- Media advisories
- “Available For Comment” emails
- Using social media to communicate with the press
- Important tips to make your releases and statements go far
Examples: We’ve included real-life examples throughout from the Indivisible Project and from Indivisible groups, because these things rarely end up following a neat template in real life, and we wanted to reflect that.
A press release is a communication, no longer than one page, that gives a reporter some of the basics they’d need to write a story about something: background about what’s happening, quotes from relevant people, and contact information they can use to find out more.
Here are a few times where a longer traditional one-page press release is the right choice:
- Announcing an ongoing series of events or unveiling something;
- Reporting back about the highlights of something that’s already happened;
- Announcing a new program or partnership;
- If your goal is to invite media to attend an event, you’ll want to send a media advisory. (See below.)
If your goal is to be quoted in a story about breaking news, you’ll want to send a statement or an “available for comment” email, or both.