A few months ago, I volunteered to submit “Religion Briefs” each week for my church to the local newspaper. Doing so made sense, because it compliments my work as professional Web Content Editor — of updating the upcoming Sunday service on the church’s website.
This role marks a continuation in the field of volunteer public relations. A few years ago, I served two terms as Public Relations Officer for a Toastmasters club.
As a publicist, I draw upon best practices that I advised people do, when I worked as editor at a newspaper.
When starting this role, I didn’t take for granted that the submission’s existing format, or the newsroom contact it was sent to, were correct or accurate. I compared a recent submission with its finished appearance in the newspaper, and I crafted all subsequent announcements to the way it appeared in print.
(To obtain that published sample, I found the listing on the newspaper’s website. If I’d needed to, I would’ve purchased a print copy or browsed a copy in the library. I did not make a nuisance of myself by asking the paper to give me a copy for free.)
Before submitting, I contacted the newsroom, introduced myself, and asked which email address was preferred for submitting “Religion Briefs.” I also asked about submission deadlines and verified style conventions.
When I worked as an editor, I didn’t expect all publicists to adopt Associated Press style. But I did expect them to do their homework and learn the tenets of their job. (Local affiliates of larger organizations can often make use of how-to resources for new Public Relations Officers.)
At a minimum, you should know which person in the newsroom handles your type of announcement. You should be prepared to meet whatever deadline your announcement is subject to.
Any questions about newsroom procedures should be directed to the newsroom and not to, say, an advertising rep, or the person who delivers your papers.
Editors work hard, so try to make your copy as clean as possible.
Even without going full AP-style, you can still observe minimal guidelines like factual announcements that include people’s first and last names and leave out subjective opinions. Be prepared to address basic information: the who, what, where, when and why.
Subject Classifications (Partial list, via Dewey Decimal System)
- 006.754-Social Media
- 020-Library and Information Science
- 020.92-Cynthia M. Parkhill (Biographical)
- 023.3-Library Workers
- 025.04-Internet Access
- 027.473-Public Libraries
- 027.663-Libraries and people with disabilities
- 027.8-School Libraries
- 028.52-Children's Literature
- 028.535-Young Adult Literature
- 028.7-Information Literacy
- 158.2-Social Intelligence
- 323.30-People with disabilities--Civil rights
- 658.812-Customer Service
- 659.2-Public Relations
- 686.22-Graphic Design
- 809-Literature--Critical Appraisal