Why do PR at the unit level?
- It can be a proud moment (for youth and parent) to see their name or picture in the paper or online.
- It’s a recruiting tool. Prospective youth & their parents learn about your unit and the fun things you do.
- It promotes goodwill between Scouting and your local community.
Some newsworthy ideas
- Community service projects
- Advancements/special achievements (awards ceremonies, Eagles and Eagle projects).
- Special events such as a high adventure trip, a pinewood derby, unique field trip or camp/activity.
- Unit fundraising events such as a pancake breakfast or car wash.
- Keep it local – Community media is all about local people and events.
- Read your local paper & website – See the type of stories covered and editors/reporters to contact.
- Be a resource – Help provide expertise and access to real people/real stories to help reporters!
- Use electronic format – Submit your releases, captions, fact sheets and photos electronically. Attach the document and photos as individual JPEG files or upload as requested on the media website.
- Select the appropriate community media – Consider the media you read, listen to or watch in your community. Check out their website(s) for the most current contact information.
- Determine if your story should appear before or after your event – Be of aware of the deadlines and submit content accordingly.
Easiest Method to Reach Local Media
Submit a photo with a caption (most often post-event)
- Choose a good photo - see the Photography Tips tab!.
- Write 1-3 sentences describing the activity. Be sure to include who, what, where, when, and why information. You may choose whether or not to identify the individuals by name (e.g., might simply say “Scouts from Troop 99 of Central Middle School loaded bags of food . . . “). If you use names, make sure they are spelled correctly. Send your caption in an email with an attached digital photo (should be around 800K in size) in .jpg format. You can send a few photos (2-3) with captions to give them more choices or they may even use more than one.
- Choose photos that:
- Show action or emotion
- Are tight [rule of thumb: no heads in a 4 x 6 photo should be smaller than a dime]
- Show no more than 3-4 people (unless unique group shot)
- Have minimal background
- If people in photo are to be named, identify from left to right, row by row in your email.
- Include name and daytime/cell phone numbers of unit contact person in the email
- List the name of the photographer such as “photo by…”
What Makes A Good Photo?
This is a good photo. It is in focus, clear, and well-lit.
This is a bad photo. It is blurry, out of focus, and dark
Write a "News Release"
News Release Example
- Type it into your word processing program titled “News Release.” Spell check and proof.
- List name, daytime telephone number, cell number and email address of a unit contact person. They may contact you for clarification or to ask for additional information. If something is unclear or missing, your news probably will not be published.
- Make the first paragraph the most important one. Ask yourself “Why is this news?” Tell the most important thing right away and try to include who, what, when, where, why, and how. Follow with embellishments in subsequent paragraphs.
- Include necessary information: dates, times, persons, location, cost (if applicable). If you mention a name, make sure the full name is given and spelled correctly. Give street address and town in addition to name of building/park – don’t assume everyone will know where it is.
- Know your newspapers’ deadlines. For a pre-event story allow plenty of time for it to appear; for a post-event story, get it in as soon as possible.
- Include a quote from a leader/participant or project recipient to personalize the story.
- Email your release to the contact listed on the newspaper’s website or use the site’s upload feature if available. If sending via email, it’s a good idea to send the release as both an attached document file as well as included as text at the bottom of your email. You can call to be sure it was received.
Write a "Fact Sheet" as a Media Alert
Fact Sheet Example
- Simply provide the facts - “who, what, where, when, why and how” - in bullet point format. Title the text “Media Alert” or “Media Advisory” instead of “News Release.”
- Start your “Media Alert” with the contact person’s name, cell & daytime numbers and email address.
- This method is useful for both pre-event notices and follow-up stories.
Submit A Photo with a Caption
- Choose a good photo - see the Photography Tips tab for more help!.
- Write 1-3 sentences describing the activity. Be sure to include who, what, where, when, and why information. You may choose whether or not to identify the individuals by name (e.g., might simply say “Scouts from Troop 99 of Central Middle School loaded bags of food… “). If you use names, make sure they are spelled correctly. Send your caption in an email with an attached digital photo (should be around 800K in size) in .jpg format. You can send a few photos (2-3) with captions to give them more choices or they may even use more than one.
Don’t be discouraged if your story doesn’t appear. Even small local newspapers can receive hundreds of releases each week. There may simply not have been room or something else may have been deemed to be more pressing or popular or it may appear just on their online version. If it is online, be sure to link to it and share via your unit’s communications to families (Facebook, website & email).
Feel free to call or drop into their office to inquire (politely) as to why your story didn’t make it. If it wasn’t a time-sensitive item, it may be going in the next week. And, use this opportunity to establish a personal contact at the paper and to educate yourself: ask how you might better submit your news to suit their needs, what they look for in photos, etc. Every newspaper has its own journalistic style and the kind of news it likes to feature. Find out what drives their selection process. And, most importantly, keep trying!
Internal Scouting Audiences
Don’t forget about sharing your stories with fellow Scouting leaders and families through Northern Star Council communications. Unit stories and ideas are featured in the quarterly print “Navigator” (Feb. May. Aug. Nov.) and eNavigator (the other eight months), as well as through Facebook and Twitter. Simply send the text and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect Via Social Media
Be sure to “Like” Northern Star Council and follow @NorthernStarBSA on Twitter for updates and Scouting news, as well as awesome shareable content to help promote your unit. Many units have Facebook pages and most of your member families are likely on Facebook—use the opportunity to share photos, highlights of activities, camps and outings that through sharing will extend the positive information on Scouting to friends and even more families.