There are several types of media and each is different in its own way. They each need
different things from stories (and you).
Daily newspapers present news stories written by reporters, who are supervised by
editors. Editors assign some stories, but most are reporters’ ideas. After
reporters write stories, editors decide where and when the stories will appear in the
newspaper. Sometimes, stories may not be printed until days or weeks after
they’re written, but usually there is a pretty quick turn around.
Advantages of Dailies:
By definition, daily newspapers publish every day and subsequently need a lot of
stories to fill the pages.
If they like the story, they might take an in-depth look at it.
They’re best equipped to handle complex issues that require research and
They have more space, more money and more resources to free a reporter for days,
even weeks, to tackle an issue.
They have more variety than any other medium.
Strategies for Dailies:
Find the right department to make your pitch. Most daily newspapers have
departments for news, sports, arts and entertainment, editorials, business, and
recreation and lifestyle.
Keep in mind that dailies are always looking for good photos. Does your story have
a strong visual element? Let the reporter know or put that in the news release.
Your sales job should be directed to one reporter at a time. If you draw two people
at the same newspaper into the same story, you risk antagonizing both.
Weekly Newspapers and Community Publications
Most weekly and community newspapers or publications tailor to specific groups:small
Advantages of Weeklies
They have specific audiences perhaps more directly targeted to the people
you’re trying to reach (such as a service region).
They’ll often give an issue more attention if it affects their specific
Readers may identify more closely with their community newspaper than with the mass
Strategies for Weeklies
Get to know each weekly newspaper’s audience. Read those newspapers,available
in public libraries.
Consider tailoring your news release to that newspaper’s specific readership.
One easy way: Send several newspapers the same basic release about an event
but for each, insert a quote from a different volunteer who happens to live in
that newspaper’s circulation area.
Work with the newspaper’s publication date and deadlines, which vary.
As a rule, weekly staffs are swamped two to four days before publication.
To some extent, weeklies compete with dailies and other mass media. Try sending out
news releases so that the weeklies have a chance to print the story on the same day as
the dailies and television.
Weekly and community newspapers have small, generally non-specialized staff and
lack extensive libraries and big budgets. Plan your pitch with those characteristics in
It helps to supply photos or art.
Magazines and other publications
Magazines and other publications are a way to read a very specific audience with a
story. These publications are typically organized around an interest group such as
business, healthcare, or higher education.
Advantages of Magazines
The stories tend to me more feature-like and longer than in newspapers.
The shelf life is longer for magazines as they are typically printed only weekly or
With their very specific audiences, it is easier to get your message to that group
Strategies for Magazines
Contact the publication’s editor with your story idea. Be sure to highlight
why it is of interest to their readership
Many of these sorts of publications have a limited number of full-time staff and
rely on freelance writers to write stories
The freelancer doing the story may have no background in the topic area. Be sure to
take the time to explain things thoroughly
These publications have editorial calendars that are set months, even years ahead
of time. Pitch your stories around the theme of each issue.
These publications often goes to press more than a month before its scheduled
release date. The April issue may be finished as early as mid-February. Keep this in
mind when timing your pitch.
Offer to supply the publication with supporting graphics or photos-many don’t
have the staff needed to take their own, but still want them
Television news usually tells fewer stories in fewer words — typically 10 to
15stories per newscast, including sports stories. Even complex issues often must be
compressed to 90 seconds or less of explanation .Generally, an assignment editor
decides which stories reporters will cover,although reporters are expected to bring
story ideas to the table. Then a reporter/photographer team covers the story. Finally,
a producer decides which stories to include in newscasts, how long they should be and
in what order they appear.
Advantages of TV
You reach a broad audience — in their living rooms.
Your story makes a visual impact that can be strong and often lingers in
Information is current and timely.
Strategies for TV
Immediacy is key. If your event or group is doing something that relates to
today’s news, call the assignment desk or email and pitch your
“local” angle immediately. If it can’t be covered in time for the
evening news, it might work for the late-night news or early-morning news.
Many stories start as news releases. Send releases to the assignment editor several
days in advance. You may also send one to a particular reporter with whom you have
dealt in the past.
It is a good idea to follow up with a telephone call to the assignment editor the
day of the event.
Think good pictures and sound. Visual interest and movement are everything on TV
— often as important as the news itself. Public demonstrations and car wrecks are
likely to get more attention than a room of “talking heads,” though news
will get covered if the station feels it is newsworthy.
Have a good spokesperson in mind – someone who can make a point quickly and
Find a compelling setting. If you’re talking some new equipment, lure the
cameras to it being used.
Don’t assume the news team knows the subject. Brief the team about
what’s going to be discussed. If practical, give the reporter written background.
Timing can affect your chances of being covered. Events scheduled after 9 a.m. or in
the early afternoon give stations the most time to edit for evening shows .Sometimes
you stand a better chance on Mondays or weekends, when TV crews are hungry for local
Don’t underestimate radio. Radio stations can be great for reaching a wide
audience. Their news departments usually cover news with the smallest staffs, in the
shortest time for each story, and with the most frequent deadlines.
Advantages of Radio
You reach a broad audience.
There’s an opportunity to reach more specific audiences with stations that
have a targeted audience.
Strategies for Radio:
Know the stations. Stations with frequent local newscasts have time and staff to
cover your story. Smaller stations with mostly music formats may not.
Send news releases to the news director or assignment editor. Remind the news
director a day or two before the event
When you call, be prepared to be interviewed on the spot.
Think good sound. Radio reporters often look for “hot tape” —
interesting sounds that help tell the story. For example, the sound of crushing glass
makes a story about recycling more interesting than simply talking about it. Think of
sounds that radio reporters could record in the field that might help create a mental
image for listeners.
Be accommodating. Offer to drop by the station for an interview or to be called up
at a later time.
Timing is crucial. “Morning drive” is the most important time of the
day for radio news. Some stations begin early, sometimes between 4 – 6 a.m.
“Afternoon drive” (4 – 7 p.m.) is the other big time. Watch the
clock. Avoid calling around the top of the hour or the half-hour when news people are
most likely on the air and not available to speak with you.
Talk shows are a good way to reach people. Each station organizes them differently.
Generally, you need to contact the producer of the show, not the host.