Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is your PR under a conspiracy of silence?

There are many events taking place in our community that organizers keep to themselves. The unfortunate consequence of such a decision is that the newspaper tends to get the blame when an event does not see print.

One such celebration was planned for May 2 at Library Park in Lakeport but the newsroom received no publicity.

On April 30, an irate caller who refused to disclose his name, demanded to know why the newspaper had not publicized the event. Doesn't the newspaper "seek out" news from the community, the caller demanded to know.

My answer is that yes, our newsroom does seek out news that is visible in the community. But this approach is limited to news that staff members come in contact with.

A reporter might see a flyer at the checkstand or get a Facebook invite. She might see a notice tacked to a bulletin board. But how many other bulletin boards are there, or checkstands at grocery stores where the reporter does not shop?

What of events circulated by people who have no social-media connections to Record-Bee newsroom staff? Those people's postings will not show up in the reporter's "feed."

There may not have been a "conspiracy of silence" among the event's organizers, but the consequences of inaction are the same as if organizers deliberately withheld information from the media. The event was not publicized and the paper received the blame.

I believe this is patently unfair.

If you're going to the effort of placing flyers at checkstands or tacking them to bulletin boards, why not augment your efforts by submitting publicity to the media?

We require basic information composed in third-person paragraph form: the "who," "what," "where," "when" and "why." If any preparation is required ahead of time, an RSVP for example, you will need to provide the "how."

Please submit event publicity two weeks ahead of time.

If you're acting on behalf of a nonprofit group, this publicity is free-of-charge. It's a service we provide to the community. But even for-profit businesses have an opportunity to submit news of important milestones or involvement in the community.

If you are the host of an annual event, you cannot take publicity for granted. Don't count on our newsroom phoning you to take down specifics of your event. People on both sides of the publicity equation move on to new responsibilities and a pre-established connection may be lost.

Our newsroom has handouts prepared that explain the PR process, including contact information for submitting your news release. You can pick up a copy from our front desk or request that a copy be e-mailed to you.

Remember, our readers depend upon you to assist us in informing them. We're the ones who unfairly take the blame when you fail to make use of this avenue for free publicity.

Published June 1, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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