Contact the media

You've done something amazing... now tell the world about it!

by Weed Stoodley

Issue your own press release! 

It's easy: here's how...

Download our ready-made BPA Form 268: First jump press release (enter '268' in the Search Forms Box at the head of this page).

Then click here to find your local media contacts to send it. Simple! 

Skydiving is exhilarating, elating, exciting. You've got a head start! Editors need YOU!

Make your own press release, as follows.

In double-line spacing, equivalent to one side of A4 in the days of paper. Send by e-mail, along with a short introduction and a couple of relevant picture attachments, this is the ideal format.

The heading is important! You may only have one moment to attract a busy editor to read further. So get this right! It will be in bold type, to the point, entice the reader to continue further, so in these few words you need to tell the story. Never underestimate the importance of the heading. Get this right and you're halfway there!

Contents  Whatever the message, remember:

The Magic Five Ws: Who, what, where, when and why?

Ensure each of these are addressed in the text.  Keep to the point. Try not to dumb down: write smart, in relation to your relevant readership. Don't use jargon but aim to inform, inspire and entertain your audience.

If writing for a local audience, add local interest.  If national or specialist adjust the slant of the piece to suit.

Poetic licence - don't be afraid to use it. But never tell untruths!

Include at least one interesting quote (giving spokesperson's name and relevance). Use the quote as further area to add information fact and detail.

Date and name your work and finish release with '- end -'.

No! you're not finished yet (although you're doing very well!)

Always include:  Photographs - our sport is hugely photogenic, and a picture is worth a thousand words!

 

Media tips

Visually our sport is incredible. A picture can tell a thousand stories, and may be the one thing that gets your item published. Most news and web media are image-led. Always, include one or two relevant pictures (ie, for a team one in action exiting the aircraft, and one on ground). List names to faces at end of press release. Cover any copyright issues, and credit photographer/s.

  • Aim for maximum impact and relevance to your release. Remember a grip perfect picture may not have the same visual impact as in imperfect exit shot.
  • Don't embed photographs in your text. Send them as attachments.
  • Beware of quality issues. E-mailing a basic JPG is quick and easy and normally sufficient for most newspapers, but offer them further images or quality, on request.

Contacts

Always include current contact of e-mail/mobile. Be prepared! Most good journalists will contact to double check information and get further information before publishing. If someone isn't available, you may miss the boat!

Say where to find more information

List related websites, points of contact, ie team, DZ, BPA, relevant charity or products, etc, interesting reading. Don't fail at these last hurdles!

You've prepared your press release, got your photos organised... now what?

Get your work out there - put your release in front of those who matter!

Email is a wonderful tool (not forgetting those attachements!) but be it email, fax, post, or by hand...

  • Try not to send mass e-mails
  • If you offer exclusivity, give it
  • Revisit your mailing/contact list. Can you think bigger, for little extra work?
  • Time critical? Tight deadlines? Make the wording less time-critical to give your release a better chance of being used.

For example, for a team, consider each member's local and regional media, TV and radio and web news sites, with a target release with their personal details foremost, also consider their locale of work/study, university media, workplace media etc (overlap of members and areas can be covered with joint release). 

Re-word the release to cover all team members for regional or national appeal, again targeting papers, TV, radio as well as specialist media.

Make the press release less time-critical by using words like 'recently' rather than a specific date. Your release will stay fresh and newsworthy for longer. Sometimes a news story may prompt a feature story, which may be less time-dependent.

Finding contact details

Getting your work to the right person is vital

Look in the relevant paper/s for contact e-mails. Try to be precise, find a personal email address. Try not to use the anonymous "info@" email address and try to avoid using the "submit a story box" on some media websites, unless you have tried and can't find a personal contact. A little time invested now finding the right person to get in touch with really can be worth it. If you're not sure, just pick up the phone and ask who to send it to, or who would be interested.

For the BBC, check out bbc.co.uk and find your local area. Your local page should provide details of how to get in touch. 

mediauk.com and jicreg.co.uk (where you can click on "jicreg in a box" and log on as a guest) can assist in finding media and press in a chosen area or further search web sites / contacts.

Don't forget specialist magazines, if it's about our sport, it's always worth sending our own BPA Skydive the Mag a copy editor[at]skydivethemag.com  What about related webs and forums who run with stories and articles?

NOW press Send

Remember the picture attachments

Don't forget to follow up

Be prepared! If your efforts have hit the mark, it is likely someone will soon be in contact, to check facts elaborate etc, so be ready!

This is a good time to forge good contacts and offer further details, photos etc.

If a face-to-face meeting or telephone interview is on the cards, don't worry. It's an opportunity to get your message across.

Be sure to confirm:

  • who you are speaking to/meeting
  • what the conversation/interview is actually about/for and how/where it will be used.
  • is the conversation on/off the record? And for TV/radio, is it live or pre-recorded?
  • how are you to be introduced/quoted? As spokesperson, expert, by name?
  • ask if specific responses are required, and if so for time to prepare within deadlines.
At an interview, be prepared...
  • Arrive early and relax
  • Remember, your sport is interesting - that's why you're bring interviewed!
  • Take along extra visual material, perhaps a short video or DVD compilation, your kit, camera helmet, medals, relevant articles, etc.
  • Depending on the nature of the interview and its key content, plan some interesting and creative responses to questions and try and second guess related topics which will no doubt be raised!
  • Make bullet points to jog your memory.
  • Be positive, or put a positive slant on a negative question.  Never lie!
  • If you don't know the answer, say you don't have the details and make another, positive point.
  • Don't be afraid to refute inaccurate or incorrect statements - politely.
  • Ensure facts and figures, if quoted, are up-to-date, relevant, and positive - you may need to do a little homework in advance for this!
  • For television or video, remember you will be seen by the audience so consider your appearance, wear team/sponsor's clothing etc.
  • For live interview, you should chat off-air first, and the interviewer should tell you if they are recording or live.  Confirm their protocol so you're not caught out.
  • If you want to make a point, don't be afraid to lead the interview there or raise the point YOU want to highlight.
  • Avoid too much jargon.
  • Be confident, calm, speak clearly. A smile helps!
  • Don't raise to the bait, and never be condescending or rude what ever the question or the tone of the interview.

Find out more

Most Media web sites have advice and information on submitting material to them. Check them out. 

dropzone.com has a number of interesting articles relating with dealing with the media (search on media).

mediauk.com may also be worth a look.

 

I hope you find this advice helpful.

Good luck!

Weed Stoodley

Weed Stoodley

Updated 28 July 2016

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