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Communications Toolkit--Telling Your Weed & Seed Story Office of Justice Programs Seal Community Capacity Development Office Office of Justice Programs
Get Your Message Out
Pitch Your Story—Build Your Media Kit

The foundation of all of your media outreach efforts will be a variety of written materials that explain and answer virtually every question about Weed and Seed. The basic materials will remain consistent from event to event. For specific efforts, your kit will need to be augmented with particular information about your event or story.

Also called a media information package, press kit, or press packet, your media kit will contain important materials—usually in a two-pocket folder—that provide a complete picture of Weed and Seed and the particular event or story at hand. Good media kits provide uncomplicated information that answers all of the questions the media might have about who, what, when, where, why, and how. In fact, a journalist should be able to write a clear, accurate, and comprehensive story strictly from the material in your kit.

The most important and time-sensitive information should appear in the right pocket of your folder so it is seen immediately when the kit is opened. Background material can go behind it and in the left pocket. If you have printed folders for your Weed and Seed program, use them. If not, be sure to put a computer-generated label on the front of the kit with your name and a list of the contents.

The following are common items you will use in your media campaign:

Pitch Letter

Paper-clipped to the outside of your kit should be a well-crafted, concise letter that makes the case for why the outlet should cover your story. Be sure that each letter is addressed to an individual on your media list (no "Dear Sirs" here!), and try to tailor it with a paragraph that makes it pertinent to each recipient's needs or interests. Talk about the uniqueness of what you can offer, and let the recipient know you'll phone to follow up. Always put the letter on your Weed and Seed letterhead. Review our pitch checklist so you know what to do and what not to do during your pitch.

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News Release

Also called a press release or media release, the news release is the backbone of each outreach effort and is the most important item in your media kit. It communicates the information you want to convey and immediately points editors and journalists to the newsworthiness of the content. To maximize the chance that your release will be read, follow the accepted format for news releases. Get tips for writing an effective news release. View a sample release in Tools of the Trade.

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Fact Sheets and Backgrounders

These documents provide additional information and insight. They can outline statistics, provide the history of a movement or organization, or expound on other details. Backgrounders usually are written in narrative style, whereas fact sheets provide information in "at-a-glance" formats (bullets, sections, and so forth). Both should follow the format guidelines used for news releases.

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Media Advisory

Also called a media alert, this one-page document alerts or advises media of an upcoming event. It gives editors a heads-up about items they might want to cover and tells why the event is happening, who is speaking or attending, when and where it is being held, how long it will last, what interview and photo opportunities exist, and whom to contact for more information. Media advisories should be sent by fax and e-mail a week before your event and again a day or two before. A copy may be included in the event media kit. View a sample media advisory in Tools of the Trade.

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Op-Ed

Short for opinion editorials, op-eds are unsolicited 500- to 800-word pieces sent to newspapers for use in the editorial section. More detailed than a letter to the editor, op-eds are well documented and usually express intense personal views. Be sure your op-ed is timely and choose an author who will maximize its impact. Be sure to indicate that person's connection to your Weed and Seed community. View a sample op-ed in Tools of the Trade.

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are simple and efficient ways to voice an opinion or provide new perspectives. Usually in response to an item printed previously, these short (200–250 words) pieces—written in letter format—can be used over and over again. Consider generating a letters-to-the-editor campaign and enlist your Weed and Seed supporters to send similar letters about the same subject. View a sample letter to the editor in Tools of the Trade.

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Tools of the Trade icon.Check out Tools of the Trade to view a sample pitch letter, news release, fact sheet, backgrounder, media advisory, op-ed, and letter to the editor.