Re: Getting Media Coverage -- Ed's Rule of 10
Ed Darrell (EDarr1776@AOL.COM)
Thu, 5 Feb 1998 10:36:50 EST
> We just finished our annual "Winter Camp '98" and the only
>people in the media that came and covered the event was the
>newspaper. I sent several press releases to the TV stations
>and I must say, they looked great.
Once upon a time, when I was working as a press secretary (after having worked
as a reporter), I tracked the results of our press releases and press
advisories over the course of a year.
We noticed a pattern which we called the Rule of 10: For every 10 copies of a
press release you send out, you'll get one story. Any given media outlet will
run a story based on 1 of every 10 releases they receive.
What does the Rule of 10 mean for Scout units?
First, it means that, to get one story from your local paper, you should plan
to give them 10 different ideas over time. If you get more than one story out
of that, you're doing better than the big national guys in Washington and
Madison Avenue. If your local paper runs with everything you give them, then
your regional paper will make up for it by running only 1 out of 100 items.
Second, it means that if you get the information to ten media outlets, you can
bet that one will cover any given event (if you gamble, that is; Scouts
probably shouldn't gamble). If you absolutely must have SOME coverage, you'd
better make sure that you contact at least ten different media outlets: Radio
stations, television stations, daily newspapers (don't forget the major
newspapers who have regional coverage for your area), wire services (AP, UPI
if you've still got em, Reuters, Bloomberg), weekly newspapers, magazines.
Third, it means that you've got to keep trying. The Rule of Ten says that you
should not expect a story the first time.
In most areas where there are television news departments, the local
Associated Press bureau runs a "daybook" everyday, explaining for television
news assignment editors (and print editors, too) what are expected to be
opportunities for news that day. Particularly if you've got a good visual
story, make certain that the daybook editor gets -- and the assignment editors
from all the outlets get (you gotta plan on redundancy) -- a copy of the name
of your event, a quick "good lead" paragraph that explains WHY it is
newsworthy, the time, the place, the names of the groups and people involved
(a chance to plug your sponsoring organization), and the phone number of
someone to call for more details.
Let me echo comments already posted. Good leads are crucial. Think first of
what headline you want (what would grab your interest), and make sure that
newsworthy point is in the headline you attach to your press release (copy
editors usually rewrite it, but not always!) and up front in the lead
paragraph (a one-sentence lead paragraph is best -- two if absolutely
necessary). Think hard about why this story is newsworthy, why anyone would
want to read it, and put that on display at the very first.
Going in to talk to editors helps, so long as you are very cordial and nothing
else is happening at the moment (don't expect them to spend a lot of time with
you at deadline!). Ask what kinds of stories they think work, tell them
you'll try to get some of those to them. And don't be surprised if the local
bank robbery bounces your story from the daily stuff.
You can create good news stories, too, where there may be no other great
reason for a paper to cover. For example, if your troop is awarding its 25th
Eagle in 25 years, you might want to get a list of the past Eagles and do a
"where are they now" sort of story -- noting that this new Eagle joins a long
tradition of excellence in your troop and town. This is a good reason to keep
a good history of your unit. Cub Scout Packs might want to keep track of how
many kids go on to Eagle -- a statistic that is very difficult to keep, but
very impressive at recruiting time.
Conversely, if your troop is new, and you're awarding your first Eagle, that
can be newsworthy, too.
Almost corny angles work, too. When I worked on my journalism merit badge I
went to the local weekly paper and asked if they would take a story on any
topic. That started a 15-year relationship that got a lot of plugs for my
troop, post, OA chapter and lodge, school debate team, Thespian club, etc.
Once they did a favor for me, they were quite happy to keep running the stuff
their protigi wrote. Try it.
If you have different success, something that significantly affects the Rule
of Ten, I'd like to hear about it.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City