Before Posting News to the Web


It is common to use a variety of terms involving communication interchangeably. Public relations, publicity, communication, news, marketing and advertising get lumped together often. In fact, they are separate and distinct, and each has a role to play in promoting your organization.

For our purposes here, we will focus on publicity - selling news media on covering your organization/using your materials, and even serving your unit by "acting as your own news media."

Publicity should function as part of a larger communication process. It's best to look at publicity philosophically at first, because it helps to understand why we are doing something before we do it.

Preliminary questions to consider

  • Why is a specific project being pursued? What is the goal?
    • How (if at all) does it reflect key brand considerations?
    • How (if at all) is it integrated into a larger strategy? How does this project relate to previous and upcoming efforts?
    • What message do you hope to convey?  How? Why? Does this project do that?
    • What audiences are you trying to reach? Is this project and proposed channel/s the best way to reach this audience/s?
    • How will impact be measured? Is the project likely to be high impact or low impact? If low, do you have the time capacity to pursue vs. high-impact opportunities lost?
    • Who else needs to see this? Who else needs to be consulted/involved? Who else will be impacted?

Before Posting

  • Understand that anything posted to the web is generally an open invitation for coverage/questions.
    • In general, anywhere the public can go, media can go too.
    • In general, anywhere the public needs to ask permission to go, media need to ask permission too.

  • While you want a story that says specific things about your organization and suggests how a reporter can compose a story, it's also necessaty to "organize the infrastructure" once you have such a story: Are sources lined up, in agreement on the story angle and accessible? To that end:
  • Have full contact information for key contacts.

  • Those key contacts must provide assent that their contact information can be provided to any interested news media.

  • Key contacts must understand/agree that calls from media for information need to be returned now/asap.
    • If/when news media follow up and seek contact information, e-mail those who might be called as to who in the media has their contact information. 

  • The key contacts/anyone quoted in a feature/news release must have previewed the text, must have approved the factual information and their own quotes.

  • Everyone mentioned in a feature/news story must have seen the final copy/be aware of when it will be posted and that there may be media follow up.

  • When a posting date is decided upon, check that all key contacts will be generally available for any requested follow-up interviews by media. If not, who will serve as key contact back ups? Or, change the posting/release date such that key contacts will be available upon posting.
  • If a story is about anything other than a verified cure for cancer, there will be competition for the story. You must be aware of that competition. What other big stories are competing for interest? Can you modify your story to piggyback on another big story, or should you wait for a slower news cycle?
  • What else will a reporter need or want? Good photos or good photo ideas? A fact sheet? Third-party source? A CV, biography or resume? Make sure you have those before you "go live."

  • For GRUC staff: Do not approve items that do not contain full contact information: Name, e-mail and phone for author/content originator.

Please Avoid

  • No source may be quoted unless you have actually interviewed that source, or if you have devised a desired quote, that source must approve it.

  • Only a direct source may alter/correct his/her own quote. Another source may not do so.

  • Do not post graphics/video that you do not have full rights or permission to use and distribute.

  • Including children under the age of 18 in posted materials without written consent from parents or legal guardians.