Writing News Pr etc by 2DcnOti

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									                Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05




Introduction
This overview provides practical advice on writing news items, features, events announcements and
press releases. Included are steps that can be followed to create a news feed for your service. All
services can have their feeds aggregated centrally. This process makes it easier to monitor what other
services are doing and should necessarily enable JISC to choose the most appropriate items to include
on its website, in JISC Headlines and perhaps for other publications such as JISC Inform and information
to include within press releases


1.    The drivers for improving news


2.    Guidelines for writing news features and articles


      a.    Start with a new perspective
      b.    Scan the press and magazines
      c.    Questions to ask
      d.    Service specific considerations
      e.    Overarching guidelines
      f.    Headlines
      g.    Introduction
      h.    Body
      i.    Conclusion


3.    Publishing and publicising your feature or news item
      a.    Creating an RSS feed and registering your feed
      b.    Blogs


4.    Techniques to monitor, evaluate and control news
      a.    Press cuttings agencies
      b.    Online services and automatic alerts


5.    Writing a Press Release
      a.    Make an impact
      b.    Keep it short and sweet
      c.    Stick to the facts and keep it simple
      d.    Quotes
      e.    Input from JISC Communications and Marketing Team
      f.    Notes for editors
      g.    Dissemination
      h.    Essential information
              Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


6.   Handling press and media enquiries


7.   Checklist for writing event announcements


8.   A few previous examples of news which has got into the press
                 Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


1.   The drivers for improving news
     JISC (in context JISC Executive, and all services and funded programmes and associated projects)
     affect more than six million people and this figure can be expected to rise. JISC need to be perceived
     to serve its stakeholders effectively and without duplication or overlap. It has an increasing need to be
     accountable for its activities, especially institutions, funding councils, the DfES and other high profile
     councils and agencies. Top-sliced funding further justifies our need to act cooperatively. To ensure
     that we are able to articulate how JISC’s strategic aims are being fulfilled, it is now engaging with the
     press far more than it did historically. The effectiveness of this engagement is augmented by
     endorsing and reinforcing key messages to our broad range of stakeholders through NEWS items.
     Therein lies an overlying principle, and the question to ask continually in preparing to write any news
     feature, announcement or item – What have we got to say to whom and why?
                 Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


2.   Guidelines for writing news features and articles

     a. Start with a new perspective
     What have we got to say to whom and why? Before doing anything, perhaps consider employing the
     services of a journalist or writer, someone not so familiar with your service, to write something about
     what you do. This could provide you and your colleagues with a new or different perspective on what
     you do, and lend inspiration. Naturally you could attempt to get the item published, and JISC would
     consider publication on its own website (www.jisc.ac.uk) at the least. Inspiration aside, deploying this
     approach could add value and be justified if you were to use the material somewhere on your
     website, or take portions of it to promote your activities.

     b. Scan the press and magazines
     It is a good idea to scan the press from time to time to check what is currently catching the attention
     of the media. If this seems time consuming you could employ a cutting service to do this for you (see
     section 4a below for more details). A cutting service is not expensive and they enable you to keep
     aware of issues that are important to the press and magazines.

     c. Questions to ask
     Once you have identified an idea or issue, it is a good idea to ask yourself/yourselves a number of
     key questions:

            Who will be reading this – should you assume they have never heard anything about the
             service before? If that is the case, will they know enough having read the item?
            What will they do once they have read it?
            Where can they find out more information about this?
            How might the item link to those other areas of news identified above?

     d. Service specific considerations
     What particular channels could be used to spread the word? We have included some suggestions
     below (see section 3b) Your item may need to be adapted for certain recipients or key points
     highlighted appropriately.

     Timeliness should be considered. For example, you might need to ask yourself, if your service has
     just started up, whether it really is the time to be communicating that fact widely in advance

     e. Overarching guidelines
         Acknowledge source of funding somewhere in the article
         Photographs – worth looking into using professional photographers. All photographs should
           include details of source and if for re-use, what captions and copyright acknowledgements
           should be made
         Sub-headings should be used, if articles are long. It should also be remembered that key
           sentences within articles, emboldened and enlarged so as to stand out, can also be used.
         Quotes should be either written in bolds or italics. They should include inverted comma
           punctuation
         URLs, email addresses and telephone numbers should always be given
         Acronyms and editors notes should be included, particularly if the feature is alerting the
           reader to a particular service. Remember, if the item is a longer feature, it will be passed over
           to other publications.
         Proof-read and edit your news item before sending onwards. Try to get a colleague to do
           this if possible. Avoid alliteration and clumsy sentences. Try to make things as easy as
           possible for the editor receiving the item.
         Double check all factual information. Very often incorrect figures, especially when
           concerning sums of money and numbers of people/resources etc., can communicate a very
           different message to the one originally intended.
         Length of article/feature. Shorter items (200 words or less) should remain focused on the
           issue – no more than three main points – x, y, z - would be recommended. Longer pieces
           should ensure that the main purpose of that piece is adhered to, without going off track.
            Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
f. Headlines
Headings should obviously be eye-catching, and immediately paraphrase at least one of the key
points. Overuse of puns should be avoided if headlines are presented in a series of news items. For
example, a recent JISC Headline ‘Podiatrists learn on the hoof’ is probably (and subjectively)
acceptable from time to time, but overuse could become tiresome. Also eye-catching and recently
published in THES, 16.01.04 – ‘JISC in hi-tech war on cheats’;

g. Introduction
The most important thing to remember is that the introduction must capture someone’s eye and
imagination. Recent THES articles began as follows: ‘The Joint Information Systems Committee is
running plagiarism-busting workshops across the country’

h. Body
 Is there linkage between the introduction and the conclusion? What linkage could be made between
the article and hot topics currently appearing in the press?

i. Conclusion
This should be considered as essential, both in terms of getting facts right and being engaging, as
with the introduction. If the article is about something upbeat and positive, then the conclusion should
attempt to reiterate that. Pointers to further information should be included.
                 Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


3.   Publishing and publicising your feature or news item
     All services now have the opportunity to get involved with a Pilot which will use a news feed
     aggregator to collate details of news items from all services automatically. The aggregator will be
     available for services to view, but JISC will choose which items to edit and put onto its website. The
     aggregator is called JISC Services News and is currently being hosted by EEVL. It is available at:
     http://www.eevl.ac.uk/jiscnews/


     The JISC Services News service aggregates the latest service news utilising a data format called
     RSS. ‘RSS’ can stand for a number of things, but the most descriptive is ‘Really Simple Syndication’.


     RSS is essentially a format for easily sharing content on the web. RSS allows users to see some
     (essentially news headlines and brief descriptions) of your content at other, completely separate, Web
     sites, with links back to your original site where the full content (usually the complete press release)
     can be viewed.


     The JISC News Service displays the latest news items from various services, intermingled
     alphabetically by service name, and also intermingled under relevant headings (e.g. AHDS, RDN,
     MIMAS, etc). The archived database of news items can be searched by keyword.


     The JISC News Service harvests RSS feeds from JISC services every hour. All new headlines/items
     are currently displayed in the Pilot, but a future service to be made available to the public from the
     JISC Web site will have built-in filtering of new items to allow JISC staff to choose whether an item is
     included or not.


     By creating an RSS feed, a JISC service enables that feed to be incorporated into the JISC Services
     News service. There are also many other benefits of producing an RSS feed, though.
     Other benefits of producing and registering RSS feeds include enabling anyone, anywhere, to include
     that feed in their selection of feeds in a web-based aggregator such as Bloglines
     http://www.bloglines.com/ or a desktop feedreader, such as Newsgator http://www.newsgator.com/
     Many thousands of people use such services, so potentially, the audience for your news is large.
     For more details of RSS and its uses, see 'RSS - A Primer for Publishers & Content Providers'
     available at: http://www.eevl.ac.uk/rss_primer/


     a. Creating an RSS feed and registering your feed


     There are a range of ways, both manual and automated, by which RSS feeds can be produced:


     Manual RSS Production
                Coded by Hand - This time consuming option is possible if you enjoy typing lots of angled
                 brackets! There is not much to recommend this method apart from the possible benefit of
                 developing a familiarity with the RSS format.
                Use an Online Editor - Online editors exist which can produce an RSS channel simply by
                 filling in an HTML form with no code writing required! Examples include UKOLN's
                 RSSxpress channel editor http://rssxpress.ukoln.ac.uk/ which creates RSS 1.0 feeds.
                 Once created these feeds can be saved locally and uploaded to a web server for public
                 use. This is the method used to produce most of the feeds in the JISC News
                 Service.
                 Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


    Automatic RSS Production
            RSS generation from a CMS - If your content is managed by a commercial Content
             Management System (CMS) then RSS production should be straightforward as many CMS
             packages will export data in RSS format.
            RSS Generation from a Database - Data stored in a database can provide a starting point for
             RSS production. There is a range of RSS tools available for a number of different platforms
             as outlined in section 7 of the RSS Primer http://www.eevl.ac.uk/rss_primer/.


Note: RSS feeds can easily be created, edited and registered at RSS-xpress:
http://rssxpress.ukoln.ac.uk/


A typical item in an RSS feed will be something like the following:

                                                                                                   Link to the full press release
                                                                                                   at the RDN web site
                 Over 4 million visits to the RDN in the past year


                 The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) and its eight Hubs received
                 over 4 million visits to their Web sites in the last year. These
                 generated over 16 million page views.


    b.   Blogs
    A weblog (blog for short) is an online diary of sorts that features regular postings providing
    commentary, plus links to other sites. For more information on blogs, the article: Search Engines:
    Weblog search engines http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue36/search-engines/ is a good place to start.
    See also: Bradley, Phil "What are weblogs?" Serials, 17(1) March 2004 pp. 83-86


    Blogs can be an excellent medium through which to publicise service news. Most services should
    include relevant blogs in their marketing strategy. It is a good idea to cultivate a relationship with the
    owners of relevant blogs and encourage those owners to feature the service’s press releases and
    news items. You might want to give them details of your news RSS feed, so that they can regularly
    scan your news announcements.


    There is a growing number of blogs in the information world. One of the best examples is
    ResourceShelf http://www.resourceshelf.com/ which is published by Gary Price. ResourceShelf is
    read by many thousands of people who are looking for the latest news in the information world.
    Some of those readers subsequently mention items they have read in ResourceShelf in their own
    blogs, and there is therefore a snowball effect. A number of blogs related to information and libraries
    are featured in LISNews http://www.lisfeeds.com/ Each issue of the Internet Resources Newsletter
    http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/ features a ‘Blogorama’ section, where selected new blogs are noted.


    FaganFinder http://www.bloglines.com/ lists a number of RSS directories. Using these, yiou can find
    blogs covering just about any subject.
                Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05


4.   Techniques to monitor, evaluate and control news
     a. Press cuttings agencies
        Press cuttings enable organisations to keep track of the effectiveness of their press activities.
        There are three main reasons why JISC and JISC Services would use a cuttings service:


               To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of PR and other publicity campaigns
               To identify opportunities for raising awareness of your service by aligning its activities to
                those areas currently catching the attention of the media
               To ensure that you can keep track of key issues which might generally have an affect on
                your service.


        JISC currently use:

        EDS – Energy Data Services Ltd. 200 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4WU. Tel: 020 7407
        0756 – press cutting service. Will search for key words provided and feedback via fax or email
        (with attached pdf documents)


     b. Online services and automatic alerts
        The most obvious is look out for yourselves, but time is key. Alternatively, you could subscribe to
        press cutting services (see 4a above). JISC have trialled the following:

        Google’s News Alerts - http://www.google.com/newsalerts?q=jisc&hl=en – this will list items
        included in various online publications. Seems very effective.

        Many online services provide an alerting service. These often allow you to save a search term
        (the name of your service, for example) and be automatically alerted (normally be email) when
        new items added to the online service contain that term. Examples include:
             Zetoc Alert http://zetoc.mimas.ac.uk/alertguide.html
             Elsevier Contents Direct http://contentsdirect.elsevier.com/YourAlerts.html

            Bloglines Search Feeds - http://www.bloglines.com/ After registering with Bloglines, you can
            ‘subscribe’ to a search term. This means that you will be alerted any time any of the tens of
            thousands of blogs which are monitored by Bloglines mention that search term. This is an
            excellent way to check who is writing about your service (or who isn’t!).
                  Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05



5.   Writing a Press Release

     A ‘press release’ is defined as a short document making an announcement to be disseminated, as
     widely as possible, on mailing lists, web sites and to the press. A sample JISC press release is
     provided as an attachment at the foot of the page.

     JISC press releases are created by a member of the JISC Communications and Marketing
     team together with the appropriate JISC service, programme or project.

     If you’re thinking about creating a press release, here are a few questions to consider:

         -   Is the information you are communicating newsworthy?
         -   Is there sufficient substance to interest media professionals?
         -   How do you expect readers to relate to your information?

     Editors and journalists increasingly want to receive more exclusive or customised information rather
     than standards press releases. But there are still advantages in releasing information in the form of a
     press release. You should, however, weigh up the advantages of issuing a press release to all press
     contacts with releasing information to selected journals through more individual contacts. Once
     confident that you need to issue a press release, here are some simple tips to get you started:

     a. Make an impact
     The first 10-20 words of your press release are most important so place the most interesting facts at
     the top. Try to tell your audience that the information is intended for them and why they should
     continue to read it.

     b. Keep it short and sweet
     Effective press releases are best kept short and to the point, without excessive use of adjectives. Aim
     for something that will fit on one side of A4. That way it is easy for busy people to read and for faxing
     to media organisations.

     c. Stick to the facts and keep it simple
     Ensure that your press release is easy to read by: maximising the 'white space' (between
     paragraphs); using bullet points to separate key facts and highlighting key information in bold. Keep
     'internal' information (which programme the project or event comes under, which Committee is
     responsible for it, etc) to an absolute minimum. This is not interesting to most people. The key focus
     should be what is unique about this project or service, who will benefit from it and why it deserves
     attention. Further information can be given on request or in a follow-up call to specific journals or
     newspapers.

     d. Quotes
     Quotes are useful because they can 'personalise'.

     e. Input from JISC Communications and Marketing Team
     As a principal funder of the initiative, event, services, etc being described in the press release, it is
     important that the JISC is appropriately represented in the press release and the team will suggest
     amendments on this basis.

     A first draft of all press releases sent out by JISC Services should be sent to Philip Pothen –
     p.pothen@jisc.ac.uk

     f. Notes for editors
     This section should be at the foot of the press release, preferably on the second or reverse page.
     Notes for editors give basic information about the key players involved in the subject of the press
     release, including funders, host organisations, sponsors, etc., as well as contact information. This
            Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
means that one of these notes for editors should be devoted to the JISC. This should be in the
following standard format:

The JISC is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies, and is
responsible for supporting the innovative use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to
support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the SuperJANET network, a
range of services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources. Information about the JISC, its services
and programmes can be found at www.jisc.ac.uk. Contact Philip Pothen on +44 (0)20 7848 2937,
email philip.pothen@kcl.ac.uk.

g. Dissemination.
The Communications and Marketing team have a press contacts list and may be able to help with
reaching key newspapers, journals and newsletters. Contact Philip Pothen for further information.

h. Essential information:

       Name of organisation - with contact numbers, fax, email
       Date, time, place and purpose of release
       Name and contact number/s of person available for interview
       Name and contact number/s of person organising the release if different
       Provide supplementary information (history, guest lists, timetables, biographies) at the foot of
        the release in 'Notes for editors'. This section should contain standard and agreed text about
        the key organisations involved in the news story
        Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
6. Handling press and media enquiries
The following provides some practical tips on how to handle telephone calls and face-to-face
meetings with journalists.

Journalists are inquisitive, competitive and many are not paid particularly well. They like news
which is, amongst others:

        topical, relevant, unusual, humorous, contentious

If a journalist calls you, before starting to answer their questions about any specific areas of your
work, bear in mind that what you say could be assumed to be on the record. So:

        - establish why they are calling you

        - ask them who they are writing for, what is the title of the article and how many words

        - find out what their deadline is? You need to know this in case you want to check factual
        information, find others they can talk to etc. before you get back to them

Remember, you have the information and it is your right to politely find out more about them
(unless you already know them, which is usually a good thing). If you do not feel prepared,
suggest calling them back. You are likely to have the information they need and you are not
obliged to give it unless you feel comfortable.

During a telephone or face-to-face interview, you may find journalists try apparently to force you
to answer questions that you have no knowledge about, or verge on contentious or confidential
issues. You should also avoid the temptation to ramble. Do not allow the interviewer to force you
into accepting statements they put to you which are inaccurate, or do not represent the views of
your organisation. To get back to the point, you can use a simple technique known as bridging.
To do this, acknowledge their question or statement (A), link it with a phrase that enables you to
get to your point (B), and state your point (C)

A: acknowledge you have heard what they say, eg: I do not agree with that.

B: link to what you want to say, eg: Getting back to the point, the issue is

C: that this Service is out performing criteria stipulated on our contract

In summary:

        Prepare what you are going to say

        Stick to the key issues, and bridge if you have to

        Challenge the interviewer if you feel you have to

        Avoid the use of acronyms of jargon that could be misunderstood or not comprehended.
                Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05



7. Checklist for writing event announcements

All announcements about events are a reflection of your service. The following guidelines could help you
make not only more of your event, but of opportunities in promoting your service and other activities.

    -   Does the title of the event reflect accurately what the it will actually focus on?

    -   Is there a short introductory paragraph which summarises the aims, objectives and rationale for
        organising the event?

    -   Avoid the issue of acronyms unless absolutely necessary. The first time you mention your
        service, include a url link to your website

    -   If the event is being run with partners, for example, the Department for Education and Skills, put a
        link to their website to. If you are mentioning any specific area of activity, eg eLearning, link where
        mentioned to an appropriate area

    -   Always write an event announcement with your target audience in mind. For example, if the event
        is for staff in HE, does the title reflect that. Is the title of event memorable and appropriate?

    -   Are there any pictures which you could supply? These may be in gif/jpeg format and under 50k.

    -   Have you written any news items/press releases about the event and contacted JISC so that
        these can further raise awareness?

    -   If there are related booking forms, are there links directly to these?

    -   Have you included details of the event programme and location of the event?

    -   Have you included directions to the event?

Please send your announcements to events@jisc.ac.uk
            Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05




8. A few previous examples of news which has got into the press
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05
Promoting Your Service Through News – suggestions and guidelines - Draft 0.5 – 07.02.05

								
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