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Step-by-Step Guide to Publicizing a Visit from the UUA President

If Rev. Peter Morales is coming to deliver a sermon or speak at a rally for your congregation, this may be a good opportunity for you to raise awareness of your congregation through media outreach.

Congregations are more likely to have a positive experience with media outreach for a presidential visit when the topic of the worship service or other public event is relevant to the general public and the congregation is ready to welcome visitors.

Here's a list of steps that you can follow to publicize a visit from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) president:

  1. Contact Rachel Walden, UUA Public Witness Specialist, at pw_specialist @ uua.org or (617) 948-4652. She provides support for congregations publicizing events featuring the UUA president and will be the contact for advance interview requests.
     
  2. As soon as possible, conduct an inventory of your congregation’s communications resources. Ask the following questions:
     
    1. Who is qualified to serve as a media spokesperson in addition to Rev. Morales? (Consider members of the congregational staff, governing board, or communications committee).
       
    2. With whom do we communicate to make sure that our website, newsletter, and email bulletins communicate timely and useful information for the media and for visitors?
       
    3. Does the congregation already have a communications committee? Does that committee include the website administrator, a representative of the governing board, the newsletter editor, and any other communications-related volunteers whose help will be needed to communicate with the community?
       
    4. How do we prepare to welcome visitors and the media? Is our congregation friendly and easily accessible? What kind of information do we need to communicate in advance of events?
       
    5. What local media outlets (including print, web, radio, and television) cover our area? Who in the congregation might have contacts at these outlets?
       
  3. If your congregation does not already have a communications committee, consider forming one to work with the congregation, visitors, and the media. Collect contact information (name, phone, and email) for the congregation’s spokespeople.
     
  4. Identify the person in your congregation who is coordinating Rev. Morales's visit and will be able to be in touch with him during his stay. Instead of providing Rev. Morales' direct contact information to reporters, provide the contact information for the person in your congregation who is coordinating Rev. Morales's visit. The Public Witness Specialist is available to field interview requests made on weekdays (when the UUA is open), and the congregational representative will field interview requests made on weekends.
     
  5. Prepare a press packet with materials that you can circulate to members of the media via email and your website. Ideally, a press packet should be ready at least one month in advance of your event. The packet may include:
     
    1. A media advisory to be circulated at least one week prior to the event. The media advisory is a one-page alert that briefly states the “five Ws” (who, what, where, when, and why). It should also include names and contact information for congregational spokespeople and relevant UUA staff.
       
    2. A press release to be circulated two or three days before the event. The press release should be slightly longer than the media advisory by offering expanded info about the event and quotes from local contacts and/or Rev. Morales. The media advisory should read like a “save the date” notice, while the press release should read like a short news story.
       
    3. A one-page history or backgrounder of the congregation.
       
    4. Rev. Morales' bio and a photograph of him, which can be found in his online media kit.You are welcome to simply link to the online kit in your email notices. Be sure to label the link clearly.
       
    5. A high-resolution photo of the congregation.
       
  6. Finalize a list of local media outlets, including radio, television, magazines, blogs, and newspapers. A good rule of thumb is that the more local the media outlet, the more likely they are to cover a story at a congregation in their area.

    For each media outlet, identify the names and emails of reporters who cover religion, neighborhood news, social justice issues that Rev. Morales may be addressing, or other relevant subject areas. If you cannot locate contact information for reporters, add the name and email of the news editor to your contact list instead.
     
  7. Distribute your media advisory seven to 10 days before your event. Email it to your full local media contact list. If contacting a weekly publication, send materials at least two weeks in advance to account for less frequent publishing.
     
  8. At least two or three days before your event, send an email reminder to your media contact list containing the press release and other media materials.
     
  9. Welcome members of the media and the community to your congregation on the day of your event. Consider the needs of first-time visitors to the congregation and be ready to meet those needs. For example, you may want to have members of the congregation serve as greeters, or you may put up additional signs to help visitors find their way into and around your building.
  10. Save electronic and paper copies of your media kit materials. Track media coverage of Rev. Morales' visit and save hard copies and/or electronic copies of any relevant news stories. Do not assume that an article published online will always be available; many smaller publications remove articles from their websites after a period of time or charge a fee to access them.
     
  11. Send reporters who cover your event a thank-you email and keep in touch with local media in the future. Sharing news about your congregation's events throughout the year may be of interest to them. Building those relationships is important.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, April 29, 2011.

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