Media Training: Practical Tips

27 Sep 2007

This week I addressed a seminar at the British Education Suppliers Association. We had a very interesting discussion about how the education media works and the difficulty of getting coverage for innovative ideas, designs and products in education. 

At the same time, I have just completed a series on schools that have been caught in the eye of a media storm. It will be broadcast in 3 parts on Teachers TV (see 'articles' for more details). Here too I found confusion and nervousness about dealing with the media.

So I thought I might use this blog to offer a few tips on how to deal with the education media. I don't want to overload this posting, so will make this just the first of several instalments.

But to start off, here are a few tips on how to write and send a news release to the education media. In future postings I will give tips on how to do print and broadcast interviews and how to understand what does/ does not interest the media.

 If you are interested in more details on media training please contact me:

How to Write and Send News Releases 

  • Email is now the most common way for journalists to receive news releases. Only use the post for large documents.
  • Use email ‘subject’ box for a relevant headline (not just ‘press release’).
  • Paste news release into body of email (attachments only for extra detail).
  • Issue at least a week in advance and repeat day or two before.
  • Put a release date and time on it. This is vital. Think hard about release timing: Is it Budget day? Are your interviewees available? Is it the school/university holidays (if filming/photo call is relevant)?
  • Include contact numbers, preferably more than one, and out-of-hours numbers.
  • Tip off by phone, but only with big stories or exclusive access.
  • Consider where you could stage a news conference or photo opportunity. The involvement of a school or children is a big bonus.
  • Is it worth an ‘exclusive’ preview in selected outlet – or will that deter others?
  • The headline must carry the news point i.e. what is ‘new’ about the research/conference/book/product/event and explain why it is important. Leave witty but elliptical headlines for the journalists to come up with.
  • Avoid professional jargon.
  • Opening paragraph must grab attention: they may read no further.
  • Make sure you answer the: who, what, where, when, & why questions.
  • Think who your story is aimed at: young people, parents, teachers, taxpayers? Why is it relevant to them?
  • Suggest named people for interviews and their availability.
  • Attach full research paper/book/conference agenda separately or explain how it can be obtained.
  • Offer case studies if relevant e.g. particular schools involved in the research, places journalists can visit. Don’t email pictures unless they are exceptional (no portraits of ‘men in suits’).
  • Give quotations from those involved.
  • Give any essential background (e.g. if it ties into an ongoing national debate) in ‘Notes for Editors’ at the end of the release.
  • 2 - 3 pages of A4 is long enough. Extra detail can be sent as separate item. 

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