Magazine article Techniques

Building Relationships with Reporters

Magazine article Techniques

Building Relationships with Reporters

Article excerpt

AS ACTE WORKS ON IMPROVING THE IMAGE of career and technical education (CTE) at the national level, I wanted to provide advice for members on how to increase coverage of their CTE programs in the local press. Each story that is written about CTE increases knowledge and support with local government, school officials and the community. The first step in improving publicity for your program is to build a relationship with your local reporters covering education. This relationship will benefit your CTE program and improve its image.

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Making a Connection

Before approaching reporters, first conduct research on those who write education stones. Once you have found your reporters and/or editors, read past stories that they have written to understand the types of stories they are writing. When you are ready to approach the reporter, send an e-mail introducing yourself and your CTE program and offer yourself as a resource for future stories. In your e-mail you should also praise a recent story by the reporter; this communicates that you are familiar with their work and are pitching the right person. Reporters really appreciate receiving this type of information--especially if they need sources on a tight deadline.

Another option is to contact the reporter and invite him or her for a cup of coffee or lunch. During this meeting, you can introduce yourself and discuss your program in more detail, When you meet with the reporter, you should bring information on your program, your contact information and other information related to CTE. For example, ACTE's Research Fact Sheet is a list of research statistics on the importance of CTE in education and workforce development; this would be effective in educating the reporter about the value of CTE. If you have an upcoming event, this would be a great time to discuss it.

Throughout the year be sure to send information to the reporter about your program through news releases or short articles explaining your activities. This will keep the reporter aware of your activities and possible story angles. It's best to send information about events to reporters two weeks ahead of time, so they can place it on their calendars. If they can't attend, they may still contact you to write a short brief about the event in the newspaper.

An organization I worked for previously in South Carolina held an awareness week each year with a variety of events and lectures each night. The reporter requested that I send her the information six weeks beforehand so she could place the events on her calendar. The newspaper ran daily briefs on each lecture and three stories were written. Because of my relationship with the reporter, 1 was able to gain positive coverage and increase attendance for these events.

As you are planning events for CTE Month in February you may want to start sending information to the reporter in early January. It may help with publicizing your event to the community, and the reporter can place it on his or her calendar for possible coverage. You can send reporters a short e-mail alerting them about the different dates and events, and let them know that more details will be forthcoming.

Developing the Relationship

Once you have introduced yourself to reporters, it's crucial to cultivate the relationship. …

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