Recently I gave a workshop for non-profits, the idea being they could get it straight from me how to best get things into the newspaper.
It was a good day, even though the workshop occurred exactly 24 hours after my third child was born. I wanted the day off, but some things you just can't move around. There were too many people who wanted to hear me. I guess that is good.
I spent about an hour talking about what folks could do to get their press releases to the top of our stack. i spoke about finding a copy of an AP stylebook and using it. I spoke about the challenges behind the scenes we face every day. I spoke about how these folks could make my life easier, and that would put them at the top of the stack.
Some of those items on the list were:
1. Don't give us a hand-written release. They can be very hard to read. At the least, grab an old typewriter. At the best, email it to us!
2. Time, date, place. Always in that order. The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 30 in the community room of the Harvey County Courthouse, 800 N. Main.
3. AP style. AP style can, and is, different from what was learned in high school English classes. Mostly, we look at word use. For example, The Boxcars will play Saturday at The Fox Theatre. When at the theater, take note of the new paint in the lobby. Did you notice that? Two spellings of the same word - each used in proper AP format.
4. Spell check. We screw up enough on our own. Help us out a bit here.
5. When you email, follow up. Make a phone call. Not to pester us because the release didn't run the day after it was sent — to check to be sure we found it. When I returned from vacation, there were more than 5,000 emails for me to sift through. My news editor had access to my email, and he deleted a ton while I was gone, but there were still a couple tons left. We get releases and spam from around the world. Call and ask if we saw yours.
There's five. I'll post some more soon - I have top five lists like this from all members of the staff, and will share them with you.