Monday, July 25, 2022

Dynamic Media Relations - by Jeanne Burrows-Johnson


Successful branding rests on myriad strategies…including positive media relations

In reaching out to media, know that you’re moving into the realm of commercial writing, requiring concise verbiage directly addressing the needs of a specific audience. The bottom line is to follow the rules set down by each media outlet…


Consider which media outlets [print, broadcast, and online] are appropriate for shining a spotlight on you. Regardless of choice, you’ll need concise data. You can pay for a subscription to detailed media lists or build your own. Even with annual subscriptions, the information becomes outdated, so you must verify data periodically. If creating your own media list, gather the following information: Names of media outlets and key personnel [including linked organizations such as radio, television, magazine, and on-line products within a single company]; mailing and street addresses [for drop-offs]; phone and fax numbers [used by government and media]; and departmental email addresses. You’ll glean additional information as staff become acquainted with you.


Having compiled details about each media outlet (including demographics of their clientele) you need to establish relationships with key journalists and editors. After all, there’s no telling what a person’s next job may be...Is there a journalist or editor for whom your work will be of particular interest? As an author, it’s easy to rely on effective writing. But personal visits with media professionals will broaden your skill set through the genteel art of verbal communication. Unable to meet with media representatives personally? Organizations like Chambers of Commerce and book fairs often have booths with local media. Also make calls to introduce yourself and learn about an individual’s normal and seasonal interests.


What constitutes a newsworthy media release? Topics must be appropriate to media outlets. For example, you wouldn’t send notice of an elementary school program to a Seniors’ magazine—unless that demographic is notably involved in the program. And, when there’s an element of time involved (such as a holiday event), media outlets are more likely to give you attention IF you contact them with sufficient lead time. 

Consider the following scenarios when communicating with local, regional, national, Internet, and even international media outlets:


The Media is always interested in stories of success, especially when addressing their niche market. In your releases, make sure you indicate the stature of an individual, business, or organization that is recognizing your work. If there’s a prolonged timeline, send out updated announcements. Be sure to mention other newsworthy persons involved in the project or event...such as the person slated to be the voice for your audio book or an event’s MC. By the way, this includes political, religious, or volunteer activities which are often appealing to the media.


You may already have a plan for participating in viral or in-person events. Also consider non-profit organizations who’d find your work beneficial to their cause. You could donate books, address students or staff about effective writing principles, or volunteer as an event’s MC. Even if they’re sending out media releases, send your own tasteful release focusing on the event in a distinctive format highlighting your involvement. An event benefitting your community makes you an ideal guest for an early morning drive time radio talk show—excellent for promoting a worthy cause and drawing free media attention! 

The most popular topics for garnering media attention relate to children, elders, and non-profit organizations. That’s why it’s beneficial to team up with such groups...Remember, Such associations attract loyal followers. And, word-of-mouth promotion is the most beneficial and cost-effective form of advertising!

You may wonder if there’s a way to ensure your release will be acted upon as you desire. The simple answer is no. Admittedly, it helps to get your message published if you have developed a positive relationship with the media outlet...and are prominent in your field. For most of us, the main concern is avoiding being perceived as wasting a media professional’s time. If your release seems irrelevant, it will minimize the possibility of promoting current work and decrease the likelihood of your next outreach being greeted with joy. 


Regardless of your valuation of your message, consider how the media will judge its value to their clientele. Many writers and artists view their work as having ultimate significance. They begin nearly every communication by lauding themselves. Rather than opening your cover note of a media release with I, begin with words that will appeal to their patrons, thereby encouraging a desire to learn more about you and your work. Present facts in a way that builds interest in your topic. 

~ As __________’s youth face another summer of seeking entertaining activities…

~ The enclosed image shows local author _____ donating her time at…

~ Jane Smith, winner of the 2022 _____ Award is named presiding judge in the forthcoming spelling bee for elementary school children in the _____ School District.

Remember that if you’re involved in an event benefiting your community, you might be the ideal guest for an early morning drive time radio talk show—a great way promote your event...while providing you with free media coverage.


Try not to bore your recipient. A majority of media releases are one or more pages of single-spaced paragraphs.” They often lack sectioning, titling, or bold or underscored text. If the opening of a long document is not auspicious, the recipient probably won’t finish reading it...especially when more appealing materials are available! Even if a plodding release is read, it may only be published because there’s a slow news day (with a large “news hole”)

Short-circuit these problems by opening with the classic Ws of Who, What, When, and Where. After that, utilize the journalist’s inverted pyramid placing relevant facts at the beginning of narrative text. Editors like material they can drop into small spots in their layout.


Follow each media outlet’s instructions. To increase the number of people who see my releases, I end emails stating hardcopy will follow. With few people bothering with anything but emails, there’s a chance several people will read your copy when sent in more than one form. Of course, you can’t be certain of how your copy will be treated. Contrary to what many media specialists assert, I’ve found providing minimal text gives an editor less to delete, re-sequence, or rewrite. Remember, they’ll contact you if they’re interested in learning more. And, remember to send out follow-up releases on the results of your project. Highlight the event’s outcome, mentioning any noteworthy person or historical context which will distinguish the activity as being of general interest in your community

Despite enhanced connectivity with media, at some point you may need to invest in advertising. To maximize the results, your branded message must be consistent and memorable. From your words to their accompanying colors and shapes, you must strike an accord with your target market. To achieve your long-term goals, you’ll need to look beyond traditional ads and commercials. Appropriate saturation of social media outlets, YouTube videos, and even infomercials have been used effectively by authors seeking improved community relations. As you contemplate your options, evaluate whether you have the skill set to design and implement a branding program without professional assistance. 

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson author, narrator, consultant, and motivational speaker 

For examples of media release layouts with sample text for print and broadcast media please visit: 

For more ideas to maximize the results of your branding program, visit my marketing website or blog: Imaginings Wordpower & Design, You are also welcome to send me an email at

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