The Six "C's" of News Writing
Keep it simple. Write to express, not to impress. Avoid jargon. Spell out acronyms on first usage and briefly explain what they mean.
Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
Answer the questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Organize the story, organize your facts. The first paragraph (your "lead") should summarize key elements and grab readers' attention.
If you choose to spell out the word "percent" instead of using a "%" sign, do it every time.
Get your facts straight. Spell names correctly. Inform and educate.
Tools of the trade
Advocates have a number of tools at their disposal for engaging the media to promote an issue or cause. Here are some that you can apply to your own advocacy efforts.
Media Advisories - One-page information sheets that provide the who, what, when, where and why of an event, along with any photo or visual opportunities. Fax media advisories no more than a week prior to the event. Address the cover sheet to the appropriate editor by name.
Phone Calls - Follow-up calls are critical. Always call to see if the right editor received your fax or release and offer to provide additional information.
Media Kits - These contain background information on an event, organization or issue, as well as printable materials such as photos and logos. They can be distributed at an event or news conference or simply mailed out to interested journalists.
News Releases - News releases are one to two page documents with headlines that are used to announce news or events in story form, with relevant background and quotes. Some smaller media organizations will actually run press releases in their entirety without changes.
Backgrounders - Backgrounders provide relevant background, historical perspective or supporting information about the organization, issue or event.
Public Service Announcements - Also called PSAs, these are 15-, 30-, or 60-second radio or television spots that communicate a message, describe an event or announce some news. They can be produced as full TV or radio spots but are more typically submitted in written form to be read by announcers.
Interviews - There are many opportunities to get your message out through one-on-one interviews with the media. Offer to provide advance interviews with key organizers prior to an event. Or set up a live television interview during an event, if you coincide with the noon or 6:00 pm broadcasts. Set up morning show interviews or arrange a call-in interview with your local radio station during drive time.
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