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Jeff's Jots, How to get BayToday to cover your club or organization's news event

I’m hoping to answer a lot of the questions I see pop up in our comments sections or get asked by people I chat with on a daily basis
2019 baytoday office mcintyre w city hall turl
The BayToday office on McIntyre St. North Bay. Jeff Turl/BayToday.

Hi, and welcome!

Thanks for supporting local journalism by becoming a member. It’s much appreciated.

You’ll see lots of inside stuff here, and as the editor, I plan on emphasizing the “whys and hows” of what we do at BayToday.

I’m hoping to answer a lot of the questions I see pop up in our comments sections or get asked by people I chat with on a daily basis.

One of the things I get asked most often is “How can I get coverage for my event on BayToday?”

Let’s start with a simple meeting. Let’s imagine your club is having a garage sale.

BayToday provides a free community events listing service here. Just fill out the details and post.

But let’s say your organization is unveiling a plaque that honours a significant local event and you would like coverage.

You need to let us know, so you would send us what’s called a “Media Advisory” sent out a week in advance.

Your first task is to get the emails of people that you'd like to attend.

Here’s an example of a simple advisory.

Nov. 1, 2020

Dear Editor.

The Historical Society will be unveiling a plaque to mark the construction of the city’s first hotel which was built in 1860 by the first mayor of North Bay.

When: Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

Time: 10 a.m

Where: 100 Oak St. E. North Bay

There will be numerous guest speakers available for interviews and photos.

For more information, contact Peter Kane.

Cell: 705-123-4567

It’s important that the contact person be available, especially the day you send the advisory out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called the contact, only to get a “not available” voice message or they are on holiday. And check that the number is correct.

Finally, you may want to send out a news release, often called a press or media release.

Here are a few tips in writing one, followed by an example.

Cover these points for News Releases

You are best to send the release in Word and PDF. Many also include the release in the body of the email.

Lines should be double-spaced to allow for editor’s notes when printed off.

Try to keep it to a single page.

Do not split paragraphs between pages.

Contact name, title, and cell number at top of the first page.

Quote the highest-ranking person in the organization to make it newsworthy.

Use a headline.

The lead should give the story essentials and provoke interest from the editor.

Most news releases are for “Immediate Release” unless embargoed. If so, give a reason.

An upcoming event should be sent out a week in advance, then follow up a few days before.

Use an inverted pyramid style in releases. Most important first.

Provide an office and after-hours telephone number (cell) and be available.

Only one thought per paragraph, 15-20 word sentences. Don’t use industry lingo or jargon.

Provide a jpeg photo shot landscape. Keep it simple, it may be viewed on a cellphone so close-ups are better than wide shots. Make sure to include a cutline or description of the scene. If there are five or fewer people in the shot, include their names and titles.

Here’s an example of a news release.

City of North Bay          

For more information;  Paul Wilson, Chief Librarian (c) 471-555-1212 or [email protected]

For immediate release: Nov. 10, 2020                         

Library Board Introduces Changes To Balance Its Budget

NORTH BAY-With the aim of balancing a shrinking operating budget, the North Bay Public Library today announced a number of changes to fees, hours, and services which will go into effect November 30th.

Chief Librarian Paul Wilson explained that the decision to introduce these changes was made in anticipation of funding cuts from both the City and the Province.

“Reduced operating grants are becoming reality in today’s economy,” explains Wilson. “We wanted to be ready for them by making adjustments which would have minimal impact on our customers. All the changes we are introducing are based on the results of surveys conducted over the past two years which indicated customers would opt for some service cuts and fee increases rather than face a tax hike.”

In the new year, the registration processing/annual renewal fee for adults’ and seniors’ library cards will go up by $1. Young adults’ cards will remain at $2, and cards for children 12 and under will still be free.

Seniors will no longer be exempt from paying fines for overdue materials. A new $3 fine will also be applied to the account of any customer who places a library item on hold and then neglects to pick up the item.

As a result of extensive research on peak times of library usage hours will be altered. The library will open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., Monday to Saturday. Due to the heavy volume of telephone inquiries and limited staff resources, customers will now be asked to visit the library to obtain information about the titles and due dates of materials borrowed. This will allow customers to see their own borrowing records on the computer screen and avoid long waits on the telephone.

“We are the busiest public facility in North Bay. It is simply impossible to absorb funding cuts from two levels of government without making changes to the service and fee structure, said Wilson. “So far, we have been able to make changes that will create a minimum of inconvenience to our customers. Unfortunately, additional cutbacks may be necessary as funding constraint continues at both the levels of government.


Photo: Chief librarian Paul Wilson and intern Cheryl Black put security strips in books.

So there you go, in a nutshell. I’d be happy to help you craft your first release or advisory. If you have questions about how or why we do what we do at BayToday, I’m happy to hear from you.

Contact me at [email protected]

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Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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