Club PR Tips & Tools
Tips for Working with the Media
- Always put press materials on club letterhead or create your own by using the "Header" function of MS Word.
- Keep it simple, no more than two pages. Use a consistent format from one release to the next.
- Make sure to include contact information. The voicemail and email you provide should be checked at least twice a day. Cell phone numbers are ideal as they allow a reporter direct and instant access to your club's spokesperson or event organizer, increasing the likelihood of coverage.
- Introduce the media to the people who make good stories. Don't say "our club is great," but rather "we have a club member who used Agility to overcome his battle with shyness" or "we have raised $5,000 for K-9 bulletproof vests," etc.
- Send a variety of news items throughout the year, not just a big splashy release about your dog event. A small calendar listing about your regular training classes, your annual awards dinner (you can invite the local pet columnist to your dinner meetings, especially one with a speaker).
- Set a specific time and place to meet the reporter at your show and be prepared to make introductions and answer questions, yet be as flexible and understanding as you can when their schedule changes. Provide them with a copy of the event catalog, fact sheets about your club, or any other AKC material you deem appropriate.
- The key to establishing good media relationships is your availability and responsiveness. Reporters may have tight deadlines, be reacting to breaking news, or be creating a story on a slow news day. The sooner you return their calls the higher the likelihood of your quote getting into a story or your event getting coverage.
- Once you build a reputation as a reliable source that can get them information quickly, they will call you more often. If you are not able to help the media person, please refer them to the AKC.
- For events, you should contact newspapers for "calendar listings" at least one month prior to the event by sending a media alert to the events or calendar editor. Consider including a photo from a past event.
- Even if you have previously pitched the story, a few days prior to the event send the media alert to assignment (TV) and city desk (newspapers and wire) editors. Keep in mind that even if you are expecting a reporter or news crew to show up, soft news like a dog event is always low priority. If a breaking news event such as a fire or robbery occurs, the coverage of your event may be canceled or postponed.
- Understand the varying needs of media. Television news broadcasts often air multiple times a day and work on a very short lead-time. Wire services and online outlets are constantly being updated. Daily newspapers have their front page stories being prepared right up until they go to print, while features (i.e., the home or lifestyle section) may be prepared well in advance.