- State your mission
The messages you communicate must relate to your mission statement. Your mission statement should concisely describe your group's objectives. If you don't have a mission statement, describe your purpose in two or three sentences. Use simple, straightforward language – just as though you were describing your group to a friend or neighbor.
- Identify goals
With your mission statement in mind, state your main goal for the next year. Then assess your goal in terms of public interest. You may want to narrow your focus. It's often wise to choose just one message that you can communicate with repetition. Or, choose to develop a theme to be conveyed in all your communications's efforts.
- Decide what media coverage can do for you
Decide what you want media coverage to do for your group. Educate the public? Persuade elected officials? Boost the morale of your group? Bring in new members?
- Find your audience
Who will you try to reach? Develop specific messages for targeted groups.
- Elected officials — state, county, city, school district
- Civic groups
- Senior citizen
- Union members
- Business leaders
- How can you reach your audience?
- Which newspapers do they read?
- Which television news shows do they watch?
- Which radio stations do they listen to?
- Choose a spokesperson
When selecting a spokesperson, make sure the person is knowledgeable about the subject matter as well as credible, articulate and outgoing.
- Develop a timeline
With a calendar in hand, develop a timeline for your public relations campaign. Determine which events to publicize and which messages to convey. Schedule your newsletters, public forums, phone banks, new releases and letters to the editor.
- What's newsworthy?
- Timeliness – something that happened within the 24-hours.
- Conflict – minor disagreements can become the major there of the news.
- Impact – the number of people affected.
- Human interest – put a human face on an abstract concept or dry statistic.
- Deviation from the norm – "man bites dog" is news, "dog bites man" is not.
- The local angle – the Stillwater person who is fighting in Irag.
- New release
A well-written news release is real treat for most journalists. A quality release is more likely to get noticed and may be published verbatim.
Many new releases are ineffective and get tossed like junk mail. You don't need fancy, attention-getting gimmicks or glossy press's kits. A few simple steps can guarantee that your news release hits the bull's eye.
- Start with a clean sheet of stationary.
- List a contact person's name and phone number.
- Date of release
- Type "News Release" at the top.
- Insert a brief headline with a strong action verb.
- Your release must be type written. No exceptions.
- Leave large margins's and double space text.
- Be succinct. One page is ideal.
- Write clearly with short sentences in plain English.
- Read the release out loud. It should sound natural to the ear.
- Highlight the visual appeal of your story.
- Include the pertinent facts: who, what, when, where, why and how.
- Have another person proofread your release.
- Close with a boilerplate paragraph that summarizes your organization.
- At the end of the release, center three pound symbol in a row:###
- If your release runs more than one page, type "More" at the bottom of the first page. At the top of subsequent pages, write a brief slug such as "River Valley Action Group" followed by page number: Page 2 or 2.
- Fax your release to newspapers and TV stations 2-3 weeks before you expect a story. Give magazines 30-days notice. Faxing is better than email or U.S. mail.
- Follow up with a phone call.