The Media Alert
You prepare a media alert to notify assignment editors of a
press conference, or any other event that you believe will
generate news for the media to cover. It is always one page, brief
but compelling, and sufficiently informative to arouse interest,
usually (but not necessarily) without giving away the story. It
should make clear that there are visual opportunities for TV
cameras and print photographers.
New PR students often make the mistake of writing a press release that announces an upcoming press
conference, instead of "reporting" on the press conference. Keep
these distinctions in mind:
- A media alert will trumpet an
upcoming event (press conference, grand opening,
groundbreaking, significant speech, photo op, etc.). Naturally,
you would never distribute a media alert at a press conference --
the media is already there with you!
- A press release is written in
the style of news coverage, as the story you would like to see
written after your media event has taken place. Its lead
is, essentially, the sound bite you'd like to hear on the
afternoon drive-time radio... and on the TV news tonight. If you
could have your wish, the press release is the story that would be
featured on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper, with a big fat
photo. It is always written from the point of view that the
announcement has already taken place, or that the news event is
now ongoing. Thus --
- Mayor Cline today announced a new initiative ... or
- The Cline administration is taking legal action to ...
- A press release is
always wrong if it says something like, "Mayor Jimmy Cline
will appear at a press conference today where he will announce..."
Remember, the press release is what you distribute at the press
conference -- the reporters are already there in the room with
Media Alert Format
for your letterhead)
||Mayor Jimmy Cline, together with Dr. Arnold Bevins,
Commissioner of Economic Development and Bernard J. Haskins,
Chief Architect and CEO
of the architectural firm of Ogilvy, Wollman and
||The mayor's economic development team will make a major
announcement concerning development of land formerly owned by the
county at Two Day Road and I-69, just within the city limits.
||The announcement will be made on site, on the north end of
the parcel. Those using I-69 exit 405 (approaching from north or
south) will see the colorful green and white tent on the left
(south) side of the ramp past the toll booth. Those approaching
from town on Two Day Road will see the tent on their left.
Parking will be clearly marked. Note: no electric power is
available on site.
||Monday, March 6, at 11:00 p.m. A luncheon buffet will be
served from 11:00 to 11:30. The press conference will begin at
11:30 promptly. The mayor and other participants will be
available for live TV and radio interviews beginning at about
||Mayor Jimmy Cline was reelected on a platform of development.
His "Blueprint for Progress" included plans for expansion of
light industry and retail commerce from the Orizon River to the
interstate. This press conference will be the first in a series
of important announcements concerning progress in this effort.
||Press office: Jennifer Burton, Press Secretary, or Hugh
Stevens, Depty. Press Secretary, at 309-345-8900