Guidelines for Public Relations with the Print Media
Getting the big picture
Take time to make a thoughtful plan. More on strategic planning here
Would a marketing plan help you to achieve your long-range plans for your congregation? More about assessing the benefits of a marketing plan here.
Develop some easy ways to publicize the events in your church life.
- An Event Form allows your church committees and programs to easily and sytematically convey information about their activities to a publicity committee. Download an event form here.
- Be ready to turn your information into publicity releases to the press with a Media Kit here.
- Plan to use your church photography in your marketing and publicity by using photo release forms. Download photo release forms here.
Crafting your message
Writing a press piece can be tricky, but there are key ideas that make it easy. Key questions for developing public relations stories are here. Take a look also at "Ten Commandments for Public Relations" here.
A letter to the editor is an easy way to make your principles and values more public. What is a letter to the editor? The answer is here.
It is often interesting to connect your story or the timing of your story with happenings or anniversaires in the Unitarian community. Consult these resources:
- UUA calendar of anniversaries of justice events www.uua.org/socialjustice/calendar/index.shtml
- Social Justice statements and resolutions from GA
Publishing a story is a collaboration between your public relations people and the press people. You write a piece and the editor responds. For a short piece, a press release is appropriate. If you have a longer human interest story, a press query would submitted first and if it is picked up by the editor, then someone from the paper would do the story, with your input. If you would like to offer a statement regarding a current event, a press statement is the way to go. Find further discussion about these here:
Getting linked into your comunity
Becoming an active part of your community, being known by your civic colleagues and by folks who participate in other activities around town is a good way to attract visitors. Here are some ideas in "Twenty-one questions to crank up the schmooze" here.
Handling the Media
You may want to roll out your story with a press conference. Here's how.
Eventually, the media may want to come find you when the news is not to your liking. Be Prepared [link to UUA Interconnections].
Since we share values and often share activities, your congregation might want to work with otheres to craft a special interest story. Here are some pointers:
Further Public Relations Resources
√ UUA Public Relations Manual "Sharing the News"
√ "Getting on the Air and into Print" from Community Media Workshop
√ UU Interconnections archive of publications, "Public Relations"
√ UUA Leader's Library
Strategic Plans for Public Relations are Key To a Congregation's Future. Take time to build a thoughtful plan."When you know who you are, then you can tell others"
from UU Interconnections, November 1, 1998
The First Universalist Church, Yarmouth, ME (185 members), has managed to keep busy in recent years. It built an addition to its building, survived a minister's sabbatical and resignation followed by an interim minister and the search for a new minister.
When finally, the Rev. Erik Wikstrom was settled in 1995, there was an opportunity to think beyond the next immediate problem. "We came to realize the congregation hadn't taken a look at the big picture in a while," said Wikstrom. "All those things that had to be done were done and we had time to refocus ourselves. As one member said, `Okay, we've built our building, now what are we going to fill it with?' "
With no big project to drive it, the congregation felt the need to take time to think about its future. It embarked on development of a long-range plan. The congregation circulated a questionnaire, had group discussions and congregational meetings and organized a task force that met weekly for four months. At the end of a year a plan was in place that included eight new goals for the next five years. It was embraced by the congregation, said Wikstrom. "It felt like a good thing, to refocus ourselves."
Wayne Clark, the UUA's director of building programs, encourages every congregation to have a long-range plan, or as he prefers to call it, a strategic plan. "Long-range planning implies that you start with what you have and build from there," he said. "Strategic planning is more of a clean-slate approach and is less confining."
He holds weekend workshops for congregations that want to develop a strategic plan. "I encourage congregations to get very clear about their vision -- who they are as a congregation and where they are going."
During a weekend workshop, called Searching for the Future, Clark helps a congregation do the following:
- form a Strategic Planning Committee
- divide into focus groups where participants contribute their visions of the future.
- develop a mission statement
- create a "starter list" of goals and objectives
- determine what resources are needed to accomplish the goals
Development of a strategic plan should take six months to a year, Clark said. Resist the temptation to do one in, say, six weeks, just because it's a prerequisite to a capital campaign or other project. "Unless the roof is literally falling in, congregations usually have more time with building programs than they think they do," he said. "If you forge ahead without a well-thought out strategic plan people won't feel invested in it."
The mission statement should be 50 words or less, written in lay terms. It should give members enough information to look at it and say, "oh yeah, that's us," Clark said. It should give outsiders enough information so that they want to know more. And remember that it's a fluid document. Reexamine it once a year and revise it occasionally. It's okay to laminate it and put it on the wall, but don't put it on your congregation's letterhead because then you'll be reluctant to ever change it.
Wikstrom, at Yarmouth, said he tries to read their long-range plan occasionally and also brings it up when a new project arises, to determine if it fits within the plan.
The UU Fellowship of Clemson, SC (110), prepared a long-range plan in 1994 and found it helpful recently, when recruiting a minister, said Holly Ulbrich, immediate past president. "During the search process we revisited it to see how much progress we had made in three years, as part of the packet we were assembling. The exercise proved extremely useful and I would recommend an annual revisiting."
In the past four years the UU Church of Spokane, WA (363), raised a million dollars for a new building, hired an architect, built the building, moved into it and sold its old facility.
It was only at the end of that process, looking back at all it had accomplished, that the congregation realized it needed a long-range plan, said the Rev. Dr. Linda Hart. "We had built this incredible building, but the leadership realized the only thing that made all that possible was that we had been able to envision what we wanted. It was their sense if we didn't continue that visioning process we wouldn't get anywhere."
The congregation developed a five-year plan that set out specific goals for each year and gave the congregation a new direction. Good leadership is key to a strategic plan, Hart said. "What made it work for us, more than anything, has been having a couple of leaders who have been willing to see it continue. Long-range planning is probably our best-organized committee right now. The members continue to talk to the congregation and staff and keep the plan in front of them, reminding them of the plan's goals and finding out what still needs to be done and what has to be done to make it happen."
Wayne Clark, UUA director of building programs, may be reached at (207) 829-4550. His mailing address is P.O. Box 378, Cumberland, ME 04021.
Create Your Own Future, Alternatives for the Long-Range Planning Committee, Lyle E. Schaller, 1991. (Currently out of print) UUA Bookstore #7687 $12.95 (800) 215-9076
District executives can also help congregations develop mission and vision statements and strategic plans. Contact your local district UUA office.
Assessment for a PR planASSESSMENT: DO WE NEED A PUBLIC RELATIONS PLAN?
Do we need a promotion plan for our organization?
Is the answer "yes" or "no" to these questions:
When someone asks us what we do, and we tell him or her which organization we are involved in, do they say: "Oh, that's interesting. Never heard of it."
Do we tend to do promotions in an ad hoc, knee-jerk way?
Do we have limited resources both in time and money?
Do we sometimes miss important opportunities to promote our organization?
Are we a relatively new organization that not many people know about?
Have we changed what we do since we began but not really communicated this broadly?
Do we operate in an increasingly competitive environment?
Are there other non-governmental or community-based organizations doing similar work and getting more secure funding than us (do our members contribute a substantial amount to independent not-for-profits, perhaps as much or more than they do to the church)?
Do we generally feel that promotion work is a waste of time - we should rather get on with "real" work?
Do we do work that more people should be aware of?
Do we have a profile "out there"?
Is there a possible beneficiary grouping that is largely unaware that we exist?
Do we need to raise funds?
Do we need to attract more volunteers?
Do we need to attract more members?
Do we need to attract appropriate board members?
Do we need to show accountability fairly broadly?
Do we have a negative image that we need to turn around?
Is our organization strong or weak in these areas:
- a good reputation
- seen as being interested in the community's well-being
- good public speakers
- public interest
- people interested in doing promotion work
- people with creative ideas have journalistic skills
- familiarity with how the media works
- time or money for promotions
- promotion workis included in our strategic planning
Title of Event:______________________________________________________
Please complete both sides of this form and provide one copy each for:
- Event contact person
- Event spokesperson
- Church office
- Church webmaster
- Mike Murschel, Public Relations Consultant for the CAUUC Chicago Marketing Initiative
- Any other groups within the congregation that might affect or be affected by this event
Day and Date of Event:_________________________________________________________________
Time and Duration of Event:_____________________________________________________________
Location of Event:_____________________________________________________________________
Contact Person for Event:_______________________________________________________________
Telephone 1:______________Telephone 2:______________e-mail:_______________________
Spokesperson for Event:________________________________________________________________
Telephone 1:______________Telephone 2:______________e-mail:_______________________
- Will the media be invited to attend this event? If so, publicity needs to get to them as early as possible.
- Press releases should be sent out to the media at least three weeks in advance of the event, if possible. If the goal is to interest media in writing their own stories, send out four to six weeks in advance.
- If photos are taken for promotional purposes for anything within the life of the church except raw news coverage, model releases must be filled out and signed by everyone in the photos.
- ALL MINORS, ESPECIALLY, MUST HAVE A MODEL RELEASE SIGNED BY THEIR LEGAL PARENT AND/OR GUARDIAN.
- If the event takes place anywhere other than the church, a model release must be filled out and signed by the owner or responsible person for that property, even if the property is not where the event is taking place, but is merely in the background.
NOTE: An easy way around getting model releases at the event is to build a release form into reservation materials so that everything is indicated ahead of time. If someone does not give permission, they need to be identified when they arrive and pointed out to anyone taking photos as someone not to be included in the shoot.
Information Grid: Please fill out all information. Thanks!
Description of Event:
(25 words +/-)
Who should attend this event?
Why should they attend?
What will they take with them in terms of information, handouts, materials?
Should they prepare in any way prior to event, i.e. read anything, think about an issue, view anything?
Should they bring anything to the event, i.e. chair, food, binoculars, yard tools, etc.?
Is this part of a series?
Will there be a follow-up to this event?
Who is sponsoring this event?
Is there a fee for this event, and if so, by when does it need to be received, how and where should payment be made?
Are reservations necessary, and if so, by when do they need to be made, how, and where?
What supporting publicity do you need for this event?
What support do you need from CMI for this event?
Media Kit Checklist
Media Kit Checklist
- Cover Letter Welcome Page
- Overview Overview
- Mission Mission
- Vision Vision
- History History
- Address Address
- Telephone Telephone
- FAX FAX
- Website Website
- e-mails e-mails
- Staff Staff
- Schedule Schedule
- Groups Groups
- Packet Response form
- Additional Enclosures Links
Photo release formsPocket Release (to use for spontaneous photos onsite)
For valuable consideration received, I hereby grant to_______________(Photographer) and his/her legal representatives and assigns, the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of me, or in which I may be included, for editorial, trade, advertising, and any other purpose and in any manner and medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same. I hereby release Photographer and his/her legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said photographs.
If minor, signature of
In consideration of my engagement as a model, and for other good and valuable consideration herein acknowledged as received, I hereby grant to_______________(Photographer), his/her heirs, legal representatives, and assigns, those for whom Photographer is acting, and those acting with his/her authority and permission, the irrevocable and unrestricted right and permission to take, use, re-use, publish, and republish photographic portraits or pictures of me or in which I may be included, in whole or in part, or composite or distorted in character or form, without restriction as to changes or alterations, in conjunction with my own or a fictitious name, or reproductions thereof in color or otherwise, made through any medium at his/her studios or elsewhere, and in any and all media now or hereafter known for illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, trade, or any other purpose whatsoever. I also consent to the use of any published matter in conjunction therewith.
I hereby waive any right that I may have to inspect or approve the finished product or products and the advertising copy or other matter that may be used in connection therewith or the use to which it may be applied.
I hereby release, discharge, and agree to save harmless Photographer, his/her heirs, legal representatives, and assigns, and all persons acting under his/her permission or authority or those for whom he/she is acting, from any liability by virtue of any blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form, whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking of said picture or in any subsequent processing thereof, as well as any publication thereof, including without limitation any claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy.
I hereby warrant that I am of full age and have the right to contract in my own name. I have read the above authorization, release, and agreement, prior to its execution, and I am fully familiar with the contents thereof. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.
Simplified Adult Release
For valuable consideration received, I hereby grant to_______________(Photographer) the absolute and irrevocable right and unrestricted permission in respect of photographic portraits or pictures that he/she had taken of me or in which I may be included with others, to use, reuse, publish, and republish the same in whole or in part, individually or in any and all media now or hereafter known, and for any purpose whatsoever, for illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, and trade, or any other purpose whatsoever without restriction as to alteration; and to use my name in connection therewith if he/she so chooses.
I hereby release and discharge Photographer from any and all claims and demands arising out of or in connection with the use of the photographs, including without limitation any and all claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy.
This authorization and release shall also inure to the benefit of the heirs, legal representatives, licensees, and assigns of Photographer, as well as the person(s) for whom he/she took the photographs.
I am of full age and have the right to contract in my own name. I have read the foregoing and fully understand the contents thereof. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.
In consideration of the engagement as a model of the minor named below, and for other good and valuable consideration herein acknowledged as received, upon the terms hereinafter stated, I hereby grant to_______________(Photographer), his/her legal representatives and assigns, those for whom Photographer is acting, and those acting with his/her authority and permission, the absolute right and permission to take, use, reuse, publish, and republish photographic portraits or pictures of the minor or in which the minor may be included, in whole or in part, or composite or distorted in character or form, without restriction as to changes or alterations from time to time, in conjunction with the minor's own or a fictitious name, or reproductions thereof in color or otherwise, made through any medium at his/her studios or elsewhere, and in any and all media now or hereafter known, for art, advertising, trade, or any other purpose whatsoever. I also consent to the use of any published matter in conjunction therewith.
I hereby waive any right that I or the minor may have to inspect or approve the finished product or products or the advertising copy or printed matter that may be used in connection therewith or the use to which it may be applied.
I hereby release, discharge, and agree to save harmless and defend Photographer, his/her legal representatives or assigns, and all persons acting under his/her permission or authority or those for whom he/she is acting, from any liability by virtue of any blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form, whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking of said picture or in any subsequent processing thereof, as well as any publication thereof, including without limitation any claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy.
I hereby warrant that I am of full age and have every right to contract for the minor in the above regard. I state further that I have read the above authorization, release, and agreement, prior to its execution, and that I am fully familiar with the contents thereof. This release shall be binding upon the minor and me, and our respective heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.
Minor's Name: ____________________________
Minor's Name: ____________________________
Father, Mother, Guardian: ____________________________
Key Questions for PR
Public Relations Key Questions
Question One: Who are your audiences? Whom do you want to reach? List audiences:
What do you know about each audience? What do you think are the best ways to reach each audience?
Question Two: What is your message? Is it different for each audience?
Specific audience focus for message:
Question Three: What do you want each audience to do?
Things to remember when communicating your message:
"What's in it for me?"
Why should the audience care about what you're trying to tell them? What do they get out of it?
Tell them what you want them to do subtly-not "give us your money," but "your contribution will help us do important work" or "your donation will make a difference" or "here's how you can help."
Tell them how to take the next step.
People decide what to read or watch or do in about a second; keep it simple with immediate impact.
To build awareness:
Figure out why some folks aren't interested and address those issues. Takes up too much time? They don't know anyone else involved? Ask around. Find out what the perceptions are and then address those in your promotion materials, newsletters, etc. Use concrete examples.
Tips to get news coverage
To develop positive working relationships with local editors and broadcasters:
1. Find out who editors or assignments managers are for your local news organizations. Meet with them. Call him or her and ask for a brief face-to-face meeting. Introduce yourself and leave a brochure about your church or ministry, and also your business card.
2. Know the deadline. Daily and weekly newspapers have deadlines. Most have a weekly section for religion news. When you deliver news stories or news tips, meet the deadlines.
3. If you write news releases about upcoming events, get them to news organizations at least two weeks in advance of the date you want the story to be aired or published. Give editors flexibility by delivering your news early.
4. Connect stories to seasons or significant events of the church year. Stories or event notices that relate to key celebrations such as Easter or Christmas are timely and will get noticed.
5. Weekly newspapers especially appreciate good photos. When developing photos, make two copies; keep one and deliver the other to the paper with a caption.
6. Emphasize the local. Religion editors and reporters say they want good stories and story leads about local events or people. They hear about national and regional stories routinely. They want to tell their readers about what's happening in town, and you can be very helpful.
7. Be sure your stories answer these questions: WHO is involved, WHAT is the event or idea you want conveyed, WHERE is the story, HOW is the ministry being carried out, WHEN will the story occur or WHEN did it occur, and WHY is the story important.
8. Be sure your story is in proper form. News releases and photo captions should always be typed, double-spaced. Include the name of someone who can provide additional information (and is willing to be quoted), a phone number and e-mail address. Be sure the congregation Web site address is included on every printed piece.
9. Be patient. Not every idea you send to a reporter will be used. Other news may crowd out your story. Keep trying.
10. Send your newsletter to religion editors and reporters. They may read these and pick up story ideas. However, you must continue to send news items separate from newsletters directly to editors and reporters. There are no guarantees that newsletters are read.
AND AND AND
Don't use jargon. Every institution has words such as "Eucharist," "sacraments," and "confessions" which may not be as clear to a reporter as they are to you. Use simpler, more common terms. The key is communicating what you mean to an audience that may include people who do not attend a church regularly.
Schmooze Q and ATwenty-One Questions
to Crank Up the Schmooze
1. Have your congregation listed with church finder websites?
2. Have your congregation listed with your Convention and Visitors' Bureau, or like-minded area resource?
3. Maintain a membership in your Chamber of Commerce?
4. Have volunteers from your congregation in food pantries, soup kettles, homeless shelters, crisis centers, etc.?
5. Have your minister on the list of people to provide invocations for city council meetings?
6. Have your building used by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.?
7. Participate in area prayer breakfasts?
8. Have a float in your local parades?
9. Participate in any school district clergy advisory groups?
10. Participate in any local clergy or ministerial groups or organizations?
11. Have visibility in any social action groups by offering your building as a meeting place?
12. Open your building to house walks if your building is historical in nature?
13. Have small groups in your congregation? Investigate this at the UU Small Group Ministry Network site at www.smallgroupministry.net
14. Promote the small groups in your congregation to the wider community?
15. Open your building for support groups?
16. List your website on all your materials?
17. Get involved in the arts and post events at your church at local art stores, colleges, and bookstores?
18. Provide events for youth?
19. List your congregation in your local newspaper's church directory?
20. Provide speakers for Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs, etc. on topics such as social justice and the environment?
21. Have congregation gear such as shirts, umbrellas, tote bags, emblazoned with your church name?
Ten Commandments for PRTen Commandments for Public Relations
Know thy public.
Brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit, and the substance from which are made all
the press releases that ever wert, art, and shall be published.
Congregation, thy address is to be plastered on everything thou submitteth.
Like unto this, so it is to thy phone number, e-mail, website, and all the things which thou hast named that are named under sky and above sea level, and yea,
even to those places on this earth that are below sea level.
Remember thy deadlines and keep them wholly.
Nothing said which is ever said as "off the record" is ever off the record and thou shalt be held accountable for thy words when they,
and thou knowest who they are, call.
Be thou creative and multiply thine opportunities.
Say thou always "Thank you" to any and all who have helped thee to cross over
to the promised land of media coverage.
Letter to editorWhat is a letter to the editor?
This is a letter you write to the newspaper commenting on a current news story being addressed by the paper. The letter may criticise some aspects of the paper's coverage or bring additional context to a particular story. It may also respond to a previously published letter. Letters to the editor appear on the Opinion / Editorial (op-ed) pages and are one of the most highly read sections of the paper.
What dos it do?
Like an editorial piece, a letter to the editor can allow your comments to be presented with minimal mediation or interpretation by the paper itself. This requires you to keep the letter short.
When to use it?
Use it when you want to comment on a current story and/or its coverage without mediation and an op-ed piece isn't warranted (because you don't have enough to say on the matter, because you don't think they'll print an op/ed piece for you, or because you don't have enough time to research or write one).
Important things about writing a letter
- Keep it short. Notice how long the published letters to the editor usually are and try to stay within those boundaries to avoid someone cutting your comments.
- Criticise objectively. It you must criticise the paper itself, do it in a calm and objective manner, backing up any claims you make with facts and concrete examples.
- Try to ensure a human face. People respond best to human stories, accounts and comments.
- Sign the letter. Make sure you sign the letter and provide the paper with your name and address; otherwise they will usually not even consider publishing it.
- Don't overdo it. People who write more than one letter a month are dismissed as crackpots.
Press queryAn example of a "press query," offering be available for a press story
(journalists will write their own story using your interviewees and materials)
FROM: Mike Murschel, Public Relations Consultant
Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council
CONTACT INFO FOR MEDIA ONLY: (telephone number)
DATE: January 15, 2007
RE: No Sunshine Patriots Here
So long as there is conflict between nations and peoples, there will also be peace movements. While many of the activists of today are new to these causes, some have been continuously working for peace through literally three to four decades of frontline involvement and offer a comprehensive vantage point on the differences and similarities of these activities over the years.
I'd like to propose a feature on two such people in the Chicago area. For the convenience of your writers, I have included contact information for these two activists, and photos and interviews may be arranged directly through them, or by contacting me per the information above.
For the Rev. Dr. Roger A. Brewin, Minister of First Unitarian Church of Hobart, 497 Main Street, Hobart, Indiana, and Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4340 Lincoln Avenue, St. Joseph, Michigan, his involvement as a peace activist dates back to high-profile roles in Viet Nam era Cincinnati. Most recently, his congregation participated in a vigil that included their "peace in nine languages" banner. Roger was also part of the New Year's Day North Loop candlelight vigil during which the names of the 3,000 U.S. dead were read.
Oak Park resident Jerry Parker has also been continuously active in peace work from the Viet Nam era to the present. In addition to recent participation in the September 17 Darfur Day protests, he will also be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the rally slated there at the end of this month. Jerry serves as Envoy from Third Unitarian Church, 301 North Mayfield, Chicago, to the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, an entity established by Adelaide Stevenson, who himself was a Unitarian Universalist.
Both bring a unique perspective to the peace movement through their ongoing participation over a three decade period. Their viewpoint is highly flavored by their active leadership and membership in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and its partner organization, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Unitarian Universalism is rooted in 16th century Central European Christian Humanist movements. It established itself in 17th century North America. Today, the Boston, Massachusetts-headquartered denomination is a liberal religious movement, allowing people to seek their own understanding of faith and encompassing a wide variety of world's religions, along with personal faith drawn from nature, intuition, other cultures, science, civil liberation movements, to name but a few.
Its 1,000 member congregations in the U.S. and Canada, along with others around the globe, are autonomous and promote and affirm certain specific principles, among which are the goal of a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, and a profound respect for the interdependent web of all existence.
Submitting a press release
Submitting Your Press Release
Always check with the media to which you are submitting your information as to how they prefer to receive materials. There are several options:
Print copy on paper: Hand-delivered
FAX: Produces a paper copy
e-mail: Embedded text within body of e-mail
As an attachment. Always make certain the media can open attachments.
- Most media are short-staffed, so making it as easy as possible for them to transfer your information to their format, the better.
- Hardcopy submissions could be scanned into an optical character reading (OCR) program, but errors happen even if you use standard fonts.
- FAX cannot be reliably scanned. Finding someone on staff to re-key your information is often a long shot.
- E-mail is the best alternative in most instances.
- Always use standard fonts. Times Roman or Arial work well. Two fonts specifically designed for the internet are Verdana and Georgia. All four of these fonts generally come standard on computers and systems, so can be opened with no difficulty. This applies to embedded as well as attached documents.
- Portable document format (pdf) is another option, but text cannot easily be copied and pasted from the receiver's side.
Tag Lines / Squibs
While all critical information should be located in the lead paragraph of a press release, you should also include a closing paragraph that details your congregation.
Some if the information from the lead paragraph can be repeated here: address, phone number, etc.
This is the opportunity to begin to relate who and what you are in a concise way to editors and reporters. As it is the same on everything you send out, they will eventually begin to understand who you are and what you are about.
The Bide a' Wee Church in the Glen, a congregation of the Reformed and Repentant Protevangelical Church in North America, is the third largest denomination in this region. Its central message, one of hope and love for all, underscores its involvement in community and cultural programs and ministries. The congregation worships and holds its programs in the historic Winkling Chapel, 777 West North Street, Hutsat Ralston, MP. For more information, please call 555-555-0000.
Such a paragraph should be standard on everything going out from your church.
Press statementWriting a Press Statement
Write one to:
- Respond quickly to an issue, offering your organization's perspective.
- Get the media interested in writing a story about a particular issue.
- Clear up confusion.
- Give information.
A good press statement
To be used, it has to be good and newsworthy to the media. The better written the more likely it is to be used.
A good press statement:
- Is newsworthy.
- Has an attention gripping headline and first paragraph.
- Includes all the necessary facts about the situation or issue - your standard what, why, who, when, where and how - but not necessarily all explained in the first paragraph.
- Is short and direct (one page or less if possible).
- Includes powerful statistics, if possible.
- Is so well written it could be used almost directly as is.
- Is accurate
- Gives your organization's views on the issue.
- Gives information about what action your organization intends taking around the issue.
- Is addressed to a particular person. And is followed up with a personal phone call.
- Invites the media to contact your organization for further information.
- Gives a contact person and their telephone number.
- Gets distributed effectively - and don't forget about international media.
Always Always Always include:
Phone Number of congregation
Phone number of contact person
Times for Worship
Do not send off a press statement if:
- It does not have all the necessary information for the media to be able to write a story or publish it.
- It does not have the correct facts.
- It is based on rumour.
- It is ambiguous.
- The media will not be able to get hold of your organization's media contact person.
- It has not been checked for accuracy, spelling, and grammar.
How to hold a Press Conference
How to Hold a Press Conference
1 RAISON D'ETRE
Be certain you have an announcement that is newsworthy and let the media know why it is.
2 The Announcements
Write a press release with as much detailed information in it as possible: time, location, speakers, and why this event is important in the life of the community.
Follow up the sending of the release by phone and/or e-mail to the invited media.
Make reminder contacts the day of the press conference or, if the event will be first thing in the morning, by mid-afternoon the day before.
If you've got the space, or the actual news is happening at your site, hold the conference there.
Make certain there is:
enough space for cameras and reporters.
enough chairs or standing room.
adequate electrical hook-up.
Most press conferences take place in the morning. That way, reporters have time to prepare and file their stories. Additionally, that timeframe opens the door for coverage on noon and evening news broadcasts. Avoid holding your conference at a time of day or on a date when other things are going on.
Determine who speaks and encourage them to be concise and precise; the media will only allow a certain amount of time for this. Rehearsing the event is not a bad idea.
Determine the best place to position speakers, props, banners, etc. to take advantage of the light and best possible backgrounds for photography.
Set up an audio system with adequate broadcast range so that everyone can hear the speakers. Make certain extension cords are taped down to prevent people stumbling on them. Use the correct type of microphone and, if outside especially, use foam covers on the microphones to cut down on ambient wind noise.
It is really helpful to have a prepared statement or additional information in print form, with all names, titles, contact information, and pertinent information. Assign someone to distribute this to the media when they arrive so they have something concrete for details. Also include a copy of your original press release. And put a media kit from your congregation in all of this, as well. It should contain information on your congregation, Unitarian Universalism, and the whys and wherefores of the role of your congregation in spearheading this event.
Keep track of which media show up and who they send. Ask for their cards, or get their name, title, and the media they represent.
Be certain to write thank you notes to the media who turned out for the event.
How to Prepare Team-produced MaterialsHow To Prepare Team-Produced Materials
Resources to make your life more simple
As you begin the process of working together as multiple congregations with a unified public awareness mission, please keep in mind the full resources of the Chicagoland Marketing Initiative (CMI) of the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council (CAUUC) are available to you. Contact us through:
Michael J. Murschel, MA, CH
Public Relations Consultant, CMI / CAUUC
224 · 577 · 8338
Materials are available through our website at:
and more specifically:
The first step in preparing materials produced by colleagues from a number of kindred congregations is to develop a shared vision of what the purpose of the team is.
Along with that purpose should be a complete list of action plans which should include:
* Available resources
* Resources to be cultivated
* Tasks needed to be accomplished
* Accountability for those tasks
* Review of completed projects
* Thank you notes
* The REAL reason you are doing all of this
Second step: Establish a calendar upon which should be indicated:
* Meeting Dates
* Process Dates
* Due Dates
Third step: Make certain everyone knows how to best keep in touch with each other.
Fourth step: Establish a routine for the production of similar materials such as press releases, graphics, photos, booth or display design, PowerPoint work, website development, presentations, and the like.
Fifth step: Review the success of everything you do and tweak things as you go.
Sixth step: Keep your congregations involved by updating them on a regular basis, posting success stories, inviting them to venues at which materials will be presented.
Seventh step: Keep your minister, staff, and committees involved and informed.
Public Relations by multiple organizationsFive Ways to Spread the Word about Multiple Congregations
One of the challenges to promoting the ministries of multiple congregations is finding the common elements upon which to base proposals to the community. Three options are available for what the trade terms the "round-up" format:
á Comparing similar programs and letting the distinctive be the setting.
á Discovering that similar programs are fielded in decidedly different ways, and touting the idea of different approaches to the same information for different people.
á Finding that there is absolutely nothing in common, and then going for a celebration of different expressions of the same faith family.
In short, there is always a way to produce linkages.
Here are ten ways to promote this cross-congregational message:
Write a query letter to the media to interest them in assigning a reporter to cover this story.
Write joint press releases on similarly-themed events at different locations and send it to the media.
Organize a "church walk" tour and bus people from congregation to congregation.
Provide a multiple-part series with each session to be held at a different location.
Participate in area-wide organizations, information fairs, community education venues, that relate to a common ministry and provide representation from all congregations within it.