Get your story printed

Suppose you are the one chosen to spread the word about your organization's latest accomplishment, plan, or upcoming event. You need to get the word out in your local newspaper.

That means--gulp--you are going to have to talk with a reporter or an editor.

Research and planning

Some research and planning will improve your chances for better coverage than you might get by simply calling up your local newspaper and saying, “I have a news story for you.”

Before you make the call, decide a few things for yourself about your news item:

  • What is it about?
    • The environment?
    • Education?
    • Crime?
    • Business?

These are some of the general topics that newspapers cover. You also can browse the various coverage topics of newspapers by going online and seeing the Web pages of Oregon's larger dailies.

To get good play for the story, you should ask yourself, “Why should readers of the newspaper care about this story?” And expect less coverage for an item that has significance to a select group of people. You can increase the coverage if you are able to increase the interest level: Is the person or event you are publicizing the first, biggest, best, or oddest?

Locating a reporter

Newspapers often have websites that post the names and assignments, and e-mail addresses of reporters. This offers you the option of contacting the reporter who covers your particular topic directly. Be sure to follow up any e-mail information you send with a telephone call.

All Oregon newspapers--in fact, all media outlets in the state--are listed in The Oregon Blue Book, which is available at most bookstores and also online at http://bluebook.state.or.us/. The online edition includes information about the publication that can help you find the reporter you need to contact.

Tips when talking to a reporter

  • Call when the reporter is less likely to be on deadline: which is after the current edition of the paper hits the news stands. This applies also to weekly publications.
  • Prepare a write-up of your information: it doesn't need to be more than a list that answers the basic questions “who, what, when, where, and how.” It will help you answer questions and provide the reporter with a reference to help him or her avoid making mistakes in facts or numbers.
  • Local events gain greater significance if placed in a historic or larger perspective.
  • Call after the story has appeared and thank the reporter for a job well done. Mention something specific, if applicable. If there are errors, however, don't hesitate to call and politely ask for a correction.