When to Send a Media Alert Rather Than a Press Release

Over the last several years I’ve written a number of times about press releases. We’ve discussed online newsrooms, and how to develop and pitch story ideas and how press releases support your pitches. But I don’t think I’ve written about the press releases’ brother, the media alert which is sometimes called a media advisory.

What and when to send a media alert

A media alert is best used to call attention to an event that has components suitable for visual media coverage. That means television, digital media like blogs and more traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines.

Media alerts can be created from some of the content used in your press release but their format is quite different. They are not press releases. They are more direct and to the point. A media alert is precise and describes for the editor what visually interesting events will happen and why the outlet might want to assign a videographer, news reporter or photographer cover it. Of special interest to media is a chronology of events taking place so they may cover the visually compelling parts of the event. Frequently television news media don’t have time to hang out for an hour, but want to capture video of the visually rich bits. So help them out by providing a schedule that allows them to dispatch a videographer to capture what they want.

The advisory also contains a list of entities participating in the photo op and the organizer’s contact information so the reporter may call to get credentials organized or get more information. It’s also helpful to include a map, directions or link to a map to help media find the event location easily.

Who should get a media advisory?

Media alerts are generally sent to television news and assignment editors or reporters covering specific beats.

You can view a great example of an online media advisory from NASA. You’ll notice how NASA is making great use of the web as a hub for their advisory. This way they can tweet, post and share the content without having to send the alert as an attachment or inline content. Media interested can use the information and access it from any location or with any device.

Click through to view an example from 2013 which we created for our client. [PDF] We invited the media to a behind the scenes rehearsal event. During the event, media were able to observe an opera rehearsal and meet performers. This event resulted in great coverage because of the event’s unique nature. Generally visual media don’t get invited “backstage.”

The other time you may want to send a media alert out is if you have a “presser” or a press conference. Generally these types of events are highly news-worthy and timely. Below you can view an image of a media advisory sent to media in advance of a press conference held years ago. You’ll note that the lead-in explains the reasons for the event and who will be there.

Media Advisory Example News Story

Information to include in your advisory

Always to be sure to explain the Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why. And describe the event so the news editor understands why your event is worthy of coverage.

Do you have questions about when to use media alerts and advisories? Just ask below in the comments and I’ll be glad to answer.

New Hire Announcements and Press Releases

Examples of new hire bad, better & best headshots

Headshot Examples
Announcing a new hire within an organization is one way to keep your firm’s name top of mind. This should be a regular component of your public relations activities.

When your firm has a new hire, you can send the information about their position and their responsibilities to local print and digital outlets in addition to placing the announcement on your company blog. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

10 Steps to writing and sending a new hire announcements

  1. Gather background information. Including their CV and previous position information which you will need when drafting the press release.
  2. Obtain a few quotes from them. These should address something about their new responsibilities within the firm. You may also want to gain a few quotes from them about the community in which they will be living, especially if they are new to the area.
  3. Obtain a quote from the C suite executiveto whom the new hire reports. This is good to do when you have a new hire who is an executive. For example, you might write, “Acme CEO Greg Jones said of Mrs. Smith’s hiring, ‘She brings a wealth of customer service experience to this newly created position overseeing every aspect of customer service.’”
  4. Get a good head shot. If you are taking the headshot be sure to photograph the subject against a plain, light background with no furniture, windows, or antenna sprouting from their head. You’ve all seen the head shots where it looks like something in shooting out of the top of someone’s head, or their scalp is bouncing back so much light, that part of the photo is “burned out”(first image on left above.) In years past all headshots were formal (middle image above.) Today we see more personality in headshots (shot of the guy with glasses). While this is good, consider the outlet that will include the image and make sure there is congruence between the outlet’s style and the style of photo you send them. Provide the headshot either as an attachment or more preferably, as a downloadable file from your media area or from an online media room.
  5. Make a list of media outlets. Create your list before you need it. Take note of the outlets where you find announcements. For example, most daily newspapers have a weekly column that accepts announcements of a new hire. There are many online local business newsletters and sites as well as professional associations that also accept new hire press releases.  If your industry has a trade specific journal or magazine, many of these also accept new hire press releases. Create a spreadsheet of the information required by each outlet including the image file format and desired image size as well as submission preferences. These days most outlets prefer to receive releases via e-mail, but every now and again, there will be an outlet that prefers postal mail or even fax.
  6. Write your press release. If you don’t know how to write a press release, Google it. There are many online resources about writing press releases to help you.
  7. Gain approval from the appropriate people at your firm.
  8. Distribute your releasein accordance with all the requirements you’ve noted.
  9. Monitor all the media outlets for inclusion of your release.
  10. Save copies in a clipping file for your reference in the future.

We use this new hire questionnaire to gather information and are sharing it with you for your use.

If you need help writing and distributing your new hire press releases, give us a call.


Thanks to flickr creative commons for allowing us to use these headshots.

Photo credits to: (l to r) johnnyryan1, Freddie Murphy, stickwithjosh

A Rant: Why I May Ignore Your Social Media Invitation

Social media etiquette – introductions are requested

How often have you invited someone to Link, Follow or Friend without reminding the person how you are connected? There are some “rules” for social media etiquette that somehow don’t cover this topic and some that do.

Social media etiquette makes the Web a nicer place

LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all have suggestion mechanisms to help you find and connect with those that may be your friends, former co-workers, colleagues, or even former flames. In the drive to “get the numbers up” many people click, click, click to add new peeps.

Twitter and Google+ both allow you to follow or circle people without their permission. So, understanding new connections’ motivations is not as much of a concern as it is with Facebook and LinkedIn. With these two social media platforms, the emphasis is on a personal connection. I like what Cision’s Yvette Pistorio wrote in her blog post:

Introduce yourself. When you follow/friend/engage with people who may not know you, introduce yourself. It helps break the ice and open the door to conversation. Let them know who you are, what you do (if connecting for business) and how you came across them…it might just make a great impression. Be transparent about what you are connecting with them for.

Now I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but if you want to be my Facebook Friend isn’t it just polite to introduce yourself? And if you want to be Linked, shouldn’t I know that you’re not a ball and chain?

Tell me who you are

I’m delighted to get to know new people, after all, I do brand myself “The Connection Maven,” but if I don’t know you, I don’t always understand your motivation.  Do you want to sell me something? Do you want to become a client or do you just want to ask me out for a cup of coffee? Or maybe you want to find a new job? I’m not a mind reader and so I have no idea why you may want to become connected. So, just tell me and we’re cool.

I’ll be your Friend. LinkedIn posse member and I’ll re-tweet your Follow Friday tweets. Just give me some context for our pending friendship.

Thanks, and rant over.

Photo credit: flickr user Kate Ter Haar