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Soaring Publicity Handbook

Free Publicity

The objective of this document is to help you gain "Free" publicity for your soaring operation. Press releases provide a way for you to notify the media about news-worthy events and gain considerable free recognition. Using these templates, creating a professional looking document is easy.

The following Press Release Templates are now available:

Contest, Record, Diamond Badge, Gold Badge, A, B, C, Badges, Soaring Event, and Individual Accomplishment

If you need another type of press release, contact me at vpaget@gmail.com 

 Remember, the media has content requirements to fill and welcomes information to develop stories. However, press releases are not a sure thing, so it's up to you to following the guidelines and be persistent.

Through your efforts, thousands of people will have a chance to discover soaring. You will be doing a service to your local organization, the SSA, and individuals who will soon share the joys of soaring.

  • Convey this main idea -Soaring is a fascinating, challenging, exciting activity. Let the general public (and even some of the people in aviation) know some of the joys of soaring.
  • Inform the public that soaring facilities operate in their area. When names of local clubs or commercial operations, are publicized, the public can pursue this interest.
  • Identify the SSA. Refer readers to the SSA as an excellent source of information on the many aspects of the sport. Encourage the reporter to include the web address.

Before Contacting the Media

To make Press releases work, you will have to follow some prescribed guidelines. To begin, you need specific objectives for the press release. Determine the following:

  • The audience you are trying to reach.
  • (Pilots, youth, sports-oriented people, the general public, etc.)
  • Actions do you want the reader to take.
  • (Observe contest activities, attend an open house at a club or FBO, visit a display at a local mall, take a demo flight, join your club, etc.)
  • The most eye-catching aspect of your soaring operation. (Youths' achievements, older members re-capturing their youth, individual achievements, up-coming events, etc.)

Familiarize yourself with local media

  • Make sure the media you are going to contact matches your target audience
  • Write press releases to appeal to that audience
  • Create a list of reporters who cover stories similar to the topic of your press releases. (A reporter who specializes in human interest stories, for example, will be more inclined to cover first solo at 14 or 74).

"Trigger" Events

We witness amazing events at our gliderport and wish we could share them with others. We can. A press release is the perfect vehicle to do so. You can use these models to tell the story. If you write from the heart, you will capture the moment and spread the excitement.

  • Fourteen year old solos
  • WWII pilot goes for a ride
  • A father launches his daughter/son for the first solo
  • The club or commercial operation has an open house
  • Someone get a badge or sets a record
  • On Mother's Day, a mother takes her daughter for a ride
  • Youth wins an aviation scholarship

Making a Press Release Work

The trick to making a press release work is to provide factual, news worthy stories on a recent activity or event. The fact you are in a glider business is not newsworthy. The fact that an aircraft without an engine flew over 700 miles is news worthy. It's beyond normal, it's unusual, and it just happened.

Reports about contests have been picked up by a number of newspapers. Local papers will carry information about a regional or national event in their areas. Also papers have provided daily reports about a local resident competing in a national contest. In this case, you have to set up the event and send regular releases on contest results.

Note the format of the templates in this handbook. The text is organized in a standard pattern. Include your contact information and date on each page at the bottom. Reporters receive numerous releases and this information ensures that the middle page isn't misplaced. The ### at the end signifies the end of the release. After the ## notes to the editor allow you to add useful information about photo opportunities or interviews.

Always check to see how the reporter wants the release sent. Most newspapers have a policy of not opening attachments. Include the entire press release in the body of the message.

Calling on Journalists for the First Time

You will want to contact the right journalist. For instance, if you want to have a race covered in the local Sports Section of the newspaper, contact the Sports Editor. Having a name will greatly assist you in reaching the correct person. Check the paper for the names of journalists covering similar events.

Your goal is to find out:

  • If you have reached the right journalist for your story
  • If the person is free to talk to you now
  • Whether the person wants to talk with you on the phone or have you send written material first

Following Up After You Send the Press Release

Have information you can offer in your follow-up call. Journalists don't like to be asked if they "got that press release." On the other hand, if you have some new information you can offer them, there's a good possibility you can spark their interest. You may want to deliberately withhold some intriguing facts that aren't critical to the story but will give it an interesting twist and use them as bait when you follow up by telephone.

Practice your telephone or personal approach to media people, so you can be brief and to the point. If you don't get a clear indication of interest, but you don't get turned down either, try to clarify the situation. You could say, "Are you interested, but just too busy to deal with it now? OK, then I will call back next Wednesday."

Approaching Feature Editors

Most feature editors want written article suggestions. Letters to feature editors should cover the following points:

  • Tell the editor that you are offering an idea for a feature story.
  • Summarize the idea in one paragraph
  • Explain why the editor's audience would be interested.
  • Emphasize the scope and importance of the story
  • Give a few interesting details.
  • Suggest alternate approaches where possible
  • Describe picture possibilities
  • Enclose a prepaid return card along with your e-mail address and phone number

The above information is from the PUBLICITY HANDBOOK by David R. Yale

Approaching a Variety of Media Outlets

Consider contacting local radio and television stations as well as local and national magazines. Drive-time radio stations and local television stations are looking for fresh stories. Soaring is a great topic for photojournalists. You will want to add a note to editors for television stations offering to include film opportunities (and a glider flight, if possible) or offer to bring the glider to the station for the weatherman or correspondent to use as a back-drop for the interview. The note to the editor allows you to pick the time and place you would like to invite them, so you can provide for their safety, eliminate distractions, etc.

Creating Press Packets

The US Team Press Room provides a concise, fact-filled resource on soaring and sailplane competition. Include "The History of Soaring" and "Soaring Competitions" from that site along with SSA and your local organization's pamphlets in your presspacket. Access it here.

The SSA's Growth & Development page has additional information here.

Posted: 7/17/2007


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