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Communications Toolkit--Telling Your Weed & Seed Story Office of Justice Programs Seal Community Capacity Development Office Office of Justice Programs
Tools of the Trade

Pitch Checklist

DO's
DON'T's

DO send out accurate news releases in a timely fashion, in the correct format, and with a pitch letter geared to getting the recipient excited about the story.

DO send out a media alert/advisory telling who, what, when, where, why, and how about a week in advance and again the day before a planned event.

DO follow up by phone a day or so before your event to ascertain interest, schedule an interview, and encourage event coverage. When there is no event or time sensitivity, follow up your release within a day or two.

DO tailor your pitch for the needs of each medium or journalist. Be prepared to offer plenty of visual opportunities for television, human-interest stories for print, and interviews for radio.

DO respect deadlines and time. Call at appropriate times, state who you are and why you're calling, and be brief and to the point.

DO ensure that you or your designated spokespersons are available and that they have been briefed about the key messages and talking points for this particular interview.

DO send a news release immediately after an event to those outlets that could not attend and encourage them to use the information.

DON'T write long pitch letters. Be concise and to the point.

DON'T tell the media what you want. Instead, ask them how you can help them.

DON'T forget to look for opportunities to tie your story to others that the journalist or outlet has been covering.

DON'T overwhelm reporters and editors with information that isn't newsworthy or timely. They might become desensitized to your information and ignore a Weed and Seed story that would be of interest.

DON'T be a pest. If a reporter seems uninterested, ask how you can angle your story, or find out who in the newsroom or program staff might be a more appropriate contact.

DON'T forget to approach talk and public service program producers in addition to news personnel to determine their interest in Weed and Seed stories and guests.

DON'T underestimate the importance of media such as community newspapers, cable television, trade journals, and special-interest newsletters. They often can provide targeted coverage to help you get the word out.

DON'T be discouraged if your story is rejected. Persistence pays off—keep making those calls.