Activity 3: Creating a Press Release
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Handout 3, Sample Press Release
- Media contact list with email and/or postal addresses
Preparation for Activity
- Make a list of local news media that cover your area including print, web, radio, and television. Find out if someone in the congregation might already have contacts at these outlets. Get contact information for the people who cover religion, nonprofits, social justice issues, or youth programs. Youth assigned as a point person on publicity can do this research, with your support.
- Prepare a sheet of newsprint listing "Who? / What? / When? / Where? / How? / Why?," with spaces in between.
Description of Activity
Participants write and send out a press release, to be circulated at least seven days prior to the service event.
Say, in your own words:
We are now going to work together to create a press release. It is important that what we send out be both interesting and to the point so that it is published. Remember that less is better. It is also important that our announcement read like a story, with an element of excitement.
In your own words, present these ways one can generate excitement in a news story:
- Conflict: The best stories have an element of conflict. If there is a hint of conflict in our story, that will be what the news media will concentrate on.
- Something unexpected: A story is exciting if it challenges our expectations. Since many people's perception is that people of different religions cannot get along, a skillful story about interfaith work could provide this kind of excitement.
- Personality: People like reading about people, so focusing on one or two participants' personal stories and quotes can make the story interesting.
- Visuals: Interesting photographs that help tell the story will catch the reader's eye and entice them to find out more.
Now engage the group to apply these excitement-creating ideas to build a press release about the upcoming service event. Referring to the posted newsprint, gather input for each item:
- For "who" include all the participants, the congregation, interfaith partners, and the recipients of the services.
- For "what" identify the key components of the event. Focus on the interfaith aspect.
- For "when" articulate a time line of how the project was conceived and specify the actual date and times of the service event.
- For "why" you might look back to participants' interfaith stories, which they shared in Workshop 5, Activity 3.
- For "how" describe components of the intentional environment the youth will create to make the interfaith work possible.
Distribute Handout 3, Sample Press Release. Seek a volunteer to incorporate the elements named on the newsprint into a press release, and to send it out two weeks before the event. Let the volunteer know that you (or another, designated adult) will support them. Provide the volunteer with electronic versions of the congregational press release template (if one exists), photographic images and captions, and the media contact list you have prepared. Let the group know that the media may send reporters to cover the event.