Media Releases 401 for Small Business

Last week assigned my students in the journalism class a media assignment. They needed to generate a media release for one of their two real clients. Seems simple, yes? They are quickly finding it’s not–and they are trained in journalism and journalistic writing.

First they needed to write an outline of why they were reaching which media. The assignment is meant to determine whether they understand the media channel they are trying to work with, whether that channel has their targeted audience for the client and to determine expectations: what do they hope to achieve with using that media. The elements of the outline needed to include media targeted, distribution channels for their release, time line for release and hoped for evaluative outputs and outcomes.

The assignment required generation of a media brief: preparation tool for the client spokesperson to know about the reporter/editor/producer and the media channel itself. Preparation included messages for the client to get across during the course of the interview and clear understanding of the point of the interview.

Page three of the assignment needed to be a practiced pitch. Key for the grade is an interesting subject, to get the reporter’s attention, demonstrating an understanding of the media and its audience and relating the client’s topic to the media and specifically defining the request of what kind of coverage to get from the media. In less than 50 words–reporters get hundreds of requests per day. They need brevity!

The fourth part of the assignment is to draft a media advisory. Essentially the invitation for the media to know about up coming news or an event and the value of coverage with photo opportunities or B-roll shots.

Then, and only then, comes the media release. And it needs to be written news style with the most relevant information first, the “so what” factor for the media to know why their audience would be interested and with limited bias about the client. That’s an artful way to write.

Class is in session. Can your small business meet the assignment?

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