News Release Development

Professionally prepared news releases allow cities and towns to tell their story, share news and information and communicate key messages with their primary constituents, the residents.

Staff is generally aware of the hard work being accomplished, the major and minor successes won, and the everyday activities that translate into the excellent service that Council and the residents have come to expect. What’s missing is a mechanism that allows the town administration to share those stories with the public, giving residents and elected officials an inside look into the dedication, commitment and passion that staff demonstrates on the daily basis.

A well-defined communication program that includes consistent development, dissemination and follow-up of news releases is essential to sharing the good news of the city or town. Moreover, news releases form the basis for much of the other aspects that we develop in the communication program. For that reason, identifying material for news releases is an important task.

Media Relations

Interaction with media members is an essential aspect of a successful communications program. Using the power that the media wields in creating bonds with the ultimate audience, the residents, is a critical skill that can pay large dividends. For the most part, news releases will serve as the most common method used to connect with the media.

This outreach method is the proactive element of the communication program. There is also a reactive element to the media relations program that usually requires developing and refining responses to media queries. The reactive element can be in response to a controversy, an emergency or some other unforeseen contingency.

Email Marketing

In order to make the greatest amount of use of an e-mail subscription list, we will expand to weekly the number of messages emanating from the city or town to resident-subscribers. Our goal is to utilize the e-mail subscription service as it was originally intended. In addition to the Council agendas, the weekly e-mail service will include news releases, late-breaking news and information, crime prevention warnings, advice on how to utilize municipal services, weather updates, and other information that is of interest to the residents of the city or town and requires a more immediate distribution.

Even with the distribution of news releases, there may be instances where a message requires a more detailed or focused treatment. In those cases, there may be value in developing an advertorial.

Advertorials are ways that newspapers sell ad space that doubles as news content. Newspapers allow the purchaser to have complete editorial control of the purchased space in their paper. This allows for the city or town to disperse its messages in exactly the way it intends, without the possibility of the message being changed or diluted by the newspaper staff. Newspapers may sometimes add the word “advertisement” to these messages, but that does not diminish the value of being able to send out a message via this method.

Website Updates

The web site is an important part of the communication program, since many residents have become accustomed to obtaining news and information online. While we do not propose a total revamping of the web site, we will work with the IT department or webmaster on making it a tool that is useful to the residents. The site should also serve as a critical piece of the communication program since the latest news and information will reside on the site.

Employee Newsletter

Speaking to the employee population about matters that deal directly with municipal business, HR topics, changes in compensation or coverages, training and development and other areas is essential. A monthly employee newsletter allows the town to convey information to the employees, and gives the city or town manager a chance to speak directly to the employees.

An employee newsletter can also serve as a way for employees and employee groups to speak to each other, to share their successes and challenges and to learn best practices from each other.

Crisis Management

A municipality’s reputation and good name can easily become the target of criticism in the event of a crisis. When an injury, accident, lawsuit, disgruntled former employee or any other type of defamation threatens that reputation, a crisis communication plan is essential. Fast thinking and sound decisions don’t always go hand in hand, especially if a reporter is on the phone or a newspaper deadline approaches. That’s why a detailed crisis communication plan must be in place beforehand. We’ve developed “red book” plans for a number of cities and towns. It’s always better to have one and not use it, than to need one and not have it.

Does your city or town have a program that shows how much you care about your community? Many municipalities and their employees spend significant amounts of time and money in the community helping out in good causes, but no one knows about it. In fact, sometimes employees of the same municipality may be contributing to the same cause without even knowing it. We can help your business define its community relations program, create a corporate citizenship strategy and establish a volunteer program to ensure that your corporate citizenship is part of your vision.

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