Media Advisories: When, How, Where, and Followup
When do I use an advisory?
To announce an event, such as a press conference, which you would like the media to attend.
How do I write a media advisory?
A press advisory is designed to bring an event to the media's attention and entice journalists to attend. It should be written in a simple form, including all pertinent information - the what/topic, where, when, and who/speakers for the event - without getting bogged down in extraneous details.
Keep it short! A media advisory should NEVER be more than one page. Include a catchy headline and lead sentence. Identify the newsworthiness of the event: Will you release new research findings? Take a position on pending legislation? Protest recent government action? Be clear about what journalists can expect to take place.
Give one fact or nugget of information to make them want more, but... do not include all the facts of the story. Reporters are advised about an event or happening with the expectation that they will come and cover the story in person. A contact name and number for questions should be posted clearly at the top.
Advisories are printed on the sponsoring group's letterhead. Special TV tip: broadcasters need to know if there will be good visual opportunities. For instance, if you are holding a press conference at a playground with 50 kids, write that at the bottom of the advisory. You should also indicate if you will have video, B-roll or a live feed available.
Where to send the media advisory
Beat reporters - they cover a specific issue or organization at daily and weekly papers, TV stations, radio stations, magazines, and wire services.
Assignment editors - they determine whether a television or radio station (radio stations sometimes call them "news directors") will call a story and also decide which journalist to send. Alter the assignment editor to next day or same day news.
Futures editors - They look at news events for the upcoming week and determine whether a television station is likely to cover them.
City/metro editor, bureau chief, or national editor - they determine whether a newspaper will likely cover an upcoming event and may decide who to send or pass the information on to the appropriate beat reporter.
Daybooks - these are calendars compiled by news wires such as AP, UPI, and Reuters. Newspapers and other services also sometimes have these. Check daily papers for daybooks as well.
How to send your advisory (or release)
Faxing is still the best way to send your advisory or release to the newsroom. It is best to include the name and title of the reporter you are trying to reach. The title can be important, since reporters often change beats. The person who distributes the faxes will pass the information to the appropriate person if he/she has the correct title as a guide.
E-mail is another option, though only if a reporter requests this. Try not to send more than two advisories to the same fax number. This is unnecessary and clogs the machine for other uses. If there are more than two reporters at an outlet or fax number whom you wish to reach, do them a favor and address only one piece of paper to all of them.
Blast-faxing or mass faxing can make this difficult, but it only takes one call from an irate journalist to convince you to remove duplicates from your list. (See section on Media Lists for more information).
Blast-faxing You may have to hand-fax your advisory or release to reporters. However, you can avoid this by using a fax service such as Xpedite - this typically costs $1 per page, but the faxes go out immediately. There are also computer software programs, such as WinFax, that can handle modem faxing. This method is much slower than a fax service, but you won't have to stand at the fax machine.
A faxed advisory should always be followed up with a phone call.