Positive media coverage is one of the best ways to promote the non-stop fun, amazing opportunities and tangible benefits today’s girls experience in Girl Scouting. When we share our Girl Scout news and activities it:
• Increases our visibility in the community
• Promotes our brand and signals value for the Girl Scout Program
• Boosts our membership and increases financial support
What’s the challenge?
At Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, we do our best to report the interesting stories, latest news and important information relating to Girl Scouting in our region. But, with more than 60,000 girl and adult members, it would take considerable resources in staff time, energy and funding to issue media releases on everyone’s activities!
That’s where YOU come in! As a Girl Scout PR Volunteer, you can promote your Girl Scout troop’s news and activities in local media. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Press Release Toolkit is designed to support you in your efforts and provides useful information, press release templates and media contacts for your area. As you use the toolkit resources, if you have questions or need help, please contact GSEM's Communications Assistant, Chuck Bolinger, at email@example.com or (314) 592-2339.
The most important question to ask before you write a release is: IS IT NEWS?
While many of your Girl Scout activities are interesting, not all are going to be newsworthy. Reporters and editors are inundated with press releases almost daily and they’re going to review your submission for its news value to determine whether it gets into their publication.
Ten Tips for Writing Your Release
1. USE the press release template provided in this toolkit. Why? Because we want all of our releases to be identifiable and have a consistent look across the council. It’s best to cut and paste the template into the body of an email rather than send it as an attachment.
2. Begin by plugging in the date in the dateline (after St. Louis) and your CONTACT information in the spaces provided.
3. Write a catchy title – also known as the “headline.” The headline is what attracts attention and makes people want to keep reading. It should be one line long and most words should have the first letter capitalized.
4. Your lead paragraph should be no longer than three lines and should provide the who, what, when, where and why of your story. If it doesn’t, write it again! Think of the lead as a way to give quick facts and subsequent paragraphs as a way to fill in the details.
5. Use a quote from your spokesperson in your second or third paragraph. Quotes should be to the point and used to support to your story. Be sure to include quotation marks and list the person’s name, title and organization. For example: “All the girls in my troop were looking forward to visiting the Magic House,” said Suzie Q, Leader of Troop 000. “The girls used the proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Sale Activity to pay for the trip and everyone had a great time.”
6. Write in the third person and use declarative sentences. For example, instead of writing - "My Girl Scout Troop went to the Magic House last Saturday," you would write, "Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Troop 000 toured the Magic House on Saturday, October 23."
7. Try to limit your release to around 300 words or less and proof it several times before sending it out! Check your facts, spelling and punctuation.
8. At the end of your release write “end” or use the symbols “###” centered below the text.
9. PHOTOS - Include an action shot to go with your release whenever possible. (Check out the tips for taking good pictures below.) When writing the photo caption, describe what is happening and identify people in the photo from left to right. There is no need to identify people who do not face the camera or who are in the background.
SAFETY FIRST - SO CHECK WITH PARENTS and if all agree, you may list girls by their full names: Jane Doe, Suzie Q and Annie Smith. However, for safety reasons, you might consider writing something like: Girl Scouts Jane, Suzie and Annie, members of Girl Scout Troop 000, or Girl Scouts from Troop 000, etc…
10. MAKE SURE you have a signed photo release form from every Girl Scout’s parent or guardian before distributing a picture to the media that features their child. There is a “photo release” clause included on the Girl Scouts of the USA registration form and if parents agree it is sufficient, fine. However, you may also download a photo release form from the Forms section on the GSEM Website.
Including a picture with your release increases the chances that your news will get printed!
Here are some helpful tips:
- Take pictures that support your event and try to take many pictures so you will have many shots to select from.
- Unless your intent is to wow people with the number of girls you can put in a straight line, avoid those dull group shots if you can. The group shot has its place but action shots are more fun and can make your event look more interesting. Get in close to capture faces and girls doing something!
- Only submit bright, focused, good quality photos. Pictures should be saved as .jpg or .tif files and have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch).
The daily and weekly publications listed below have indicated their preference for receiving press releases and photos via email
. The various Patch.com sites in St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties are also found below. FYI - if you send stories, articles or other items to Patch.com, please send the Communications Department a copy as well.
The list covers the major publications in Eastern Missouri; however, if you know of others in your area, feel free to provide them with your Girl Scout news. Don’t forget to keep GSEM in the loop – we want to know about the great things your girls are doing!
Please CC your release to Chuck Bolinger, GSEM Communications Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org