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									                             Introduction to the
                           Roosevelt High School
                          Communications Tool Kit


This Communications Tool Kit was created specifically for the staff of Roosevelt
High School to more effectively raise the profile of the school as well as promote
campus programs and activities.

Inside you will find resources designed to help you with all of your public relations
needs. From recommendations on general public relations tools to coordinating
special events to conducting your own media relations efforts, you will find “how
to” tips and useful examples in each section.

We hope this Communications Tool Kit will be an effective tool to help prepare
your staff for Roosevelt High School’s media and community outreach activities.

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                          TABLE OF CONTENTS
Media Relations…………………………………………………..3-8

Public Relations Tools…………………………………………..9-11

Media Training Guide……………………………………………12-21

Working with Ethnic Media……………………………………..22-23

Public Service Announcements ………………………………..24-25

Sample Documents……………………………………………….26-35

       PSA Pitch Letter
       Media Advisory Format
       Media Advisory
       News Release Format
       News Release
       Calendar Alert Format
       Calendar Alert
       Letter to the Editor Format

Special Events……………………………………………………..36-42

Corporate Partnerships/Sponsorships………………………..43-49

Community Relations……………………………………………..50-52

Policy Advocacy……………………………………………………53-57

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The following section of this Communications Tool Kit will help you implement
effective media relations. An effective media relations program may result in
positive media coverage and/or support for your topic. If in need of advocating
for a particular issue, reaching out to the media for support can be highly
effective in reaching your goal. Media advocacy is about getting the media on
your side of a particular issue. For example, if your issue is obtaining additional
funding for after school programs for your students, you want the news media to
support it, too.

California's news media offer one of the most cost-effective and credible means
of reaching both adults and seniors in your community. Media coverage is a very
cost-effective way to deliver a message, especially compared to advertising and
direct marketing. Also, by "reporting" on your organization and issue, the news
media adds credibility to your message. Many ethnic groups are particularly
reliant on media outlets specializing in their language and culture.

As you are developing media outreach tools, there are some things, such as
messages and formatting, which should always be kept consistent. This section
of the Communications Tool Kit is designed to explain some of the most common
media relations tools, provide useful examples, and offer tips on successfully
working with the media.


1.     Identify the key messages for your program
          • What do you want people to know?
          • What do you want people to do?

2.     Identify your target audience (e.g. is it local government, parents or the
       community in general?)
          • Prioritize the local audiences in your area
          • Target specific messages to specific people

3.     Simplify the message
          • Tailor the message to the audience/publication/media vehicle
              (i.e. Roosevelt High School’s three key messages for the
              community are: students at Roosevelt High are academically
              successful; school administration has set high standards for training
              the next generation of the community; and help us continue this
              tradition of academic excellence by partnering with Roosevelt
              today, call us to find out how)

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4.     Select specific vehicles to carry the message
          • Choose print, radio and TV based on the audience segment they
          • Don't leave out non-traditional vehicles such as community
              churches, bus stops, movie and television trailers, etc.

5.     Convey the message with frequency
         • Repeat the same message to the same vehicle/audience often
         • Build media relationships by contacting reporters consistently (via
            e-mail, phone, fax, etc.)

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Advertising, often referred to as "paid media," is the controlled use of print or
broadcast media in the hopes that your message will reach the exact audience
you want, in the form and at the time you want it to. Examples include television
commercials, radio spots, print ads and on-line banners. Advertising is
purchased from the media outlets or their representative.

Calendar Release

A calendar release is a modified news release designed to provide community
calendar editors (TV, radio and print) basic information about an event.
Whenever possible, send calendar releases one month in advance to ensure you
meet the deadline of the media's community calendar. See calendar release


A paid-for announcement or advertisement. A radio or television sales message.

Editorial — Print and Broadcast

The purpose of an editorial is to react to another recent editorial, event or news
story, to make a point, state a fact, or offer an opinion. An editorial adds voice
and publicity to one particular side of an issue. It also has the ability to influence
the publication’s readers. For example, one week before a City Council election,
a local newspaper writes an editorial in support of a particular candidate. If that
publication is well-respected, it may in turn influence readers to vote in
accordance with the editorial’s recommendation.

An opinion of a notable public figure is often expressed in a "letter to the editor,"
or guest opinion piece, that is mailed to the editorial page editor. Maximum
length should be 200 - 300 words. Letters should be typed and signed and they
should include a contact name and phone number. To place a broadcast
editorial, send a letter to the news director at the station indicating interest and
follow up with a phone call. See sample editorial piece.

"Hard" News

"Hard" news is usually information that is previously unknown, a noteworthy
event, a controversy, the release of a study, etc.

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"Soft" News

Also called "human interest," "soft" news stories typically focus on individuals,
organizations or families involved in something that may be of interest to the


The process by which products and services are introduced to the marketplace.

Media Advisory/Media Alert

An advisory or alert is a brief, one-page, typed notice intended to notify the media
of an upcoming "hard" news event, like a news conference. Advisories should be
received (sent or faxed, depending on the preference of the media vehicle) two
or three days prior to the event and should be followed up with a phone call the
next day. The goal of an advisory is to get media to come to the event. There is
a particular format to follow when writing advisories, to include details such as
who, what, where, when and why the activity is occurring. See advisory

News Release

Only send out a release when you have some real news. This will increase the
credibility of your organization and your chances of getting your release read. A
news release offers more information than an advisory and usually goes out to
more media vehicles. A release may precede a news event you want covered,
make an announcement, or provide a response or explanation on a current issue
or recent story. A news release also has a specific format. It is important to
organize information in order of importance. The most salient information should
be included in the first two paragraphs. A news release should also include
quotes from local authorities or well-known community leaders. See sample
news release.

News Conference

A news conference is a structured event, with the intent of creating an
opportunity to release news simultaneously to all media. A news conference is
also used when there is a visual story to tell.
• A news conference should be held in a location that is easily accessible to the
   media and is relevant to the message you intend to convey.
• Make sure the site offers adequate electrical, audio and visual access for
• Choose a time and date that are convenient for reporters. Usually mornings
   after 9:30 a.m. or early afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday work
   well for reporters. Avoid times like noon and 5 p.m. when radio and TV

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    stations schedule their own broadcasts. Avoid holding your news conference
    at the same time as another newsworthy event, so you aren't competing for
    media attention.
•   Alert the media about a news conference by sending out an advisory (see
    above) and making a follow-up call two or three days prior to the event.
•   Choose articulate, knowledgeable spokespeople who have a solid grasp of
    the program to represent the organization. Prepare talking points and key
    messages to keep them on track. There should be a maximum of 5
    spokespeople and each should speak for only 2-5 minutes. They should all
    be available after the news conference to answer questions one-on-one.
•   Develop media kits and bring multiple copies to give to reporters. They
    should include a news release, fact sheet, list of speakers/contacts, news
    conference agenda and a brief backgrounder on the program.

Public Relations

Public relations is a management function that helps organizations meet their
business or operational goals. Public relations can be defined by inverting that
term, so it reads “relations with publics.” Public relations efforts attempt to
establish positive relations between an organization and its various publics
through a variety of communications strategies.

Public Service Announcement (PSA)

A public service announcement (or PSA) is essentially a radio or television spot
that provides an important message to its target audience. The space/time given
to the spot is free of charge, so this media tool is reserved strictly for
organizations that qualify as nonprofit under federal tax laws. PSAs are either 30
seconds or 60 seconds in length. Depending on the medium, a prepared PSA or
script should be given to the media. It is important to note that because PSAs
are “free,” there is stiff competition for PSA time.


Broadcast messages are often referred to as "spots." They can be either paid-for
advertising or PSAs.

Talk Show — Radio and Television

A talk show provides a structured format in which guests can present issues and
concerns of interest to the community. Identify the most appropriate programs
for reaching the target audience and research their usual format and show topics.
Contact local cable or community-access channels to see if your topic or guest
would be appropriate to include in an upcoming show. Many radio talk shows
can be conducted over the phone. To place a spokesperson on a talk show,
send a pitch letter to the producer of the show and follow up with a phone call.

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Following up with media is the key to any successful media relations plan. Not
only is it important to distribute materials, but follow-up calls are the tool allowing
you to make personal contact and set your news release or advisory apart from
the volumes of releases that come in each day. You can develop interest and
keep an issue alive by making calls and writing letters to respond to columnists
and reporters.

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In addition to media relations activities, your school may wish to consider other
public relations tools or collateral materials. These include, but are not
necessarily limited to, the items listed below. Many of these may be distributed
to attendees at an event, to people calling for information, by direct mail or other
means. Be very specific in defining your audience(s) for these materials.

Collateral Items

These can be simple or elaborate, depending on the budget. They can be
mailed to organizations for distribution and posting, posted on Roosevelt’s Web
site, and sent into the community with volunteers for posting. Many churches
and social service agencies have bulletin boards and are willing to post
materials. Software templates are sometimes available for these, but your size
will be limited to the sizes in the templates.

Promotional Items (giveaways)
(Such as imprinted pencils, pens, key chains, balloons and similar items.)

These are particularly welcomed at special events where you wish to have an
impact. They can be distributed to those who know your organization or the
community at large. While some items are low-cost, quantity and quality can
make these costly. There are numerous businesses that specialize in providing
these materials, listed in the Yellow Pages as business specialty companies, or
advertising specialty companies

Specialty items such as T-shirts and baseball caps are especially welcomed by
volunteers who are working with your organization. At an outdoor event, they
can serve a twofold purpose as a thank-you to volunteers and as a method for
distinguishing volunteers. The business specialty companies that handle give-
away items generally also handle T-shirts and caps, or T-shirt companies can be
found in the Yellow Pages. Often these companies have designers on staff to
work with you, but if budget allows, hiring a graphic designer and copywriter is
most effective.

Informational brochures or case statement
(School and/or program-descriptive.)

Brochures are valuable in providing information about your organization. They
can be used with direct mail or handed out at events. A PDF file can also be
posted to your Web site so that visitors may download and print from home or
business. Some decisions need to be made about size. One of the most
common is a two- or three-fold brochure sized to fit in a #10 (business size)

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envelope. Other decisions include the quantity needed, kind of paper to use,
size and design of typeface, number of colors of ink for imprinting, illustration or
clip art needed and photographs, if any. All of these will affect the cost of the
brochure. While clip art is a relatively inexpensive way to illustrate, it is important
to avoid clichés. Photographs may add the cost of a photographer and require
obtaining consent forms from photo subjects. There are software programs that
include templates (sample designs) that you can follow to prepare a simple
brochure. When budget allows, working with a professional copywriter and
graphic designer is most effective.

Case statements are generally used the same way and, in nonprofit
organizations, generally make the case for support. Case statements can be of
various sizes — from a brochure-type as described above or a full 8 1/2 x 11-size
that can have as few as four and as many as 12, 16 or 20 pages. Page sizes
increase by four because of printing press requirements. These are most
effective when written and designed by professionals. Many organizations obtain
underwriting for preparation and design of an effective piece.


While taking an ad out in the appropriate news medium may bring visibility to
your message and/or organization, it can also be costly.

Again, you will want to consider your audience target when deciding upon an
advertising medium to effectively communicate your message. If you wish to
target local officials, an advertisement in the front section of your daily
newspaper may be best. If you want to reach business leaders in your
community, then your city’s business journal may be key. You can often
negotiate “added value” with media outlets that will extend the reach of your buy.
For example, in exchange for agreeing to run a print advertisement in four
consecutive issues of your local newspaper, they may give you a bonus ad
and/or placement on their Web site. That placement could incorporate a
hyperlink to your school’s Web site. You should feel free to negotiate and make
suggestions for added value in exchange for placing a buy with a particular
outlet/medium. Additionally, you will require a copywriter and graphic designer to
prepare an effective ad.

Outdoor Advertising

Billboard, bus and bus bench advertising (again, unless underwritten or donated,
this is an expensive method of getting your name before the public).

Lamppost flags

(Usually placed through the city. These may be cost-prohibitive for many
agencies unless they are underwritten by a sponsor.)

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While a city may not charge for placing these flags, which are useful in promoting
a major special event or making a broad statement, cost for designing,
copywriting and printing may be prohibitive unless underwritten.

Community cable television access

Many local cable access stations make free time available to broadcast
information about an organization and its purpose. Be sure to contact your local
cable station to determine what might be available.

Other advertising mediums to consider include:
   • Radio
   • Print
   • Bus/Bus shelter
   • Grocery store check out video
   • Gas pump video

(Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually)

This is an especially effective way to communicate with a regular constituency or
group. Various templates exist on software programs for two-, four- or eight-
page newsletters. Please see information provided above on creating brochures.

Direct mail letters or postcards

The latter is a simple and inexpensive way to get your name out on a regular

Direct mail letters and postcards are one of the most cost-effective ways of
reaching a broad audience, as well as members of your own constituency. They
can be sent with other materials, such as an annual report, case statement or
informational brochure. They can be designed for multi-purpose uses. At a
minimum, you will pay the cost of stationery and postage. At most, with a
giveaway item or annual report, the cost rises.

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Media interviews can provide a wonderful opportunity to tell a positive story about
your organization or issue. However, the interview is often stressful for most
individuals. This media skills training guide has been designed to help you
successfully interact with the news media and to make sure that your actions and
words have a positive impact. In addition, many of the same techniques can be
employed to help you communicate with your employees, government officials,
industry associations, community groups, regulators and any other key
audiences with whom you associate.

In the end, conducting a successful media interview is about understanding the
media and knowing the “tricks of the trade.”

Understanding the Media

A mystique seems to surround the media, but close examination reveals a rather
typical management structure behind the smiling anchor team and the hustling
reporters. These executives try to create and maintain a market for a product,
sharing the same bottom-line concerns as other enterprises. In fact, productivity
and profitability are fundamental to the news business.

Your interface with the news business is most likely to be with a reporter. It is
important to understand a reporter is neither a saint nor a sinner. A reporter has
a job to do, and that job is complicated by pressures from management,
pressures from editors, time constraints and a limited knowledge of who you are
and what you do.

Most reporters are trying to get information in a straightforward manner. They
rarely have sinister motives and are usually not out to destroy you in an
interview. They may be aggressive, but that’s because you are one of their few
sources – maybe their only source of information.

To be a good communicator, you need to look beyond the reporter’s limitations
(their lack of information on your topic) in order to establish a rapport. Frustration
or resentment on your part could lead to a communication breakdown and
perhaps a negative story. By remaining open and cooperative, you may be able
to educate the reporter in a non-threatening manner.

It is important to understand the ways in which broadcast journalists differ from
print journalists in their news-gathering techniques and philosophies, because

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those differences will be reflected in the way each medium covers stories
involving your organization.

No matter the format though, a “newsworthy” story if often made up of one or
more of the following elements:

        •   Conflict – The story demonstrates a conflict or clash between
            organizations, people or beliefs.
        •   Change – The story depicts something new and different – a new
            leader in a company and his new vision, sports coverage, the
            weather. These all represent basic “change” stories.
        •   Impact – The story is likely to have a major impact on many people.
            The presidential election is an example.
        •   Timeliness – The story and/or event is current. The more timely your
            story, the more coverage you are likely to garner.
        •   Proximity – The story is about events, people, issues that are local in
            nature. The news media and their consumers are most interested in
            stories that could impact them directly and that are occurring in their
        •   Entertainment Factor – The story is different or unique and captures
            the imagination. An example would be “mother gives birth to

Television and Radio

In general, you can expect television and radio reporters to approach a news
story with less perspective than their print counterparts, and be less willing to get
below the surface of the story.

Because the broadcast media must fit into time-constrained capsule, the context
and nuances of a story – often critical to understanding – are sacrificed.

As a rule, radio news is the least probing and most superficial information
medium. But it is also one of the most immediate. Radio has the ability to get
news to the public rapidly. Radio news interviews should, therefore, be
conducted carefully and thoughtfully, because radio may well carry your first
communication to the outside world.

Television news is perhaps the most persuasive and influential information
medium in the world today. In the US, TV news has changed the way we think,
the way we vote and the way we’re governed. And as its impact continues to
grow, TV news continues to change. Television technology brings ever-greater
access to events around the world, and sometimes becomes part of the event

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And yet, despite its power, television news is limited in many ways, and a good
communicator will tailor information to meet the special needs, and make
effective use, of the medium.
Because television is a visual medium, news managers may ask, “Who’s got the
pictures?” more often than “What’s the story?” Unfortunately, the pictures are the
story to some TV news people, even if those pictures don’t really explain what is
going on and, more importantly, why it is going on.

Another concept that guides much television news coverage is the “sound bite,” a
few seconds of an answer or comment pulled from an interview. This “bite” is
often presented as the essential kernel of information around which the story
revolves. It may or may not accurately reflect the substance or context of the
situation being covered.

On a continuing story, one that is covered for more than a day ore two, TV news
managers often try to find a new angle or “spin” for each day’s coverage.
Sometimes the angle is more an invention for the sake of diversity or drama than
it is a facet of the story that is useful or enlightening.

Finally, TV news operations tend to feed off one another. The danger in this kind
of imitative behavior, of course, is that a false premise or story may be repeated
and perpetuated by others.

So does television news have any redeeming qualities? The answer is an
emphatic “YES!” There are heroic reporters and crews who have made
important contributions in the coverage of breaking news and special events.
They sometimes show us amazing depth in a medium defined by speed –
whether covering a riot or an assassination or an earthquake.

Print Media

Newspapers and magazines can bring us more ideas, perspective and history
than the broadcast media. Unfortunately, not all publications live up to their
potential for deepening our understanding of events.

When you encounter a print reporter, you will generally find he or she is more
prepared for an interview than their broadcast counterparts. That means
questioning will be more comprehensive and probing. Print reporters are more
likely to be specialists in a certain area (beat) and thus better informed about
your subject. They work longer on a story and produce fewer stories each day
than broadcast reporters. Many reporters will use statistical data if provided.

And while you don’t have to think in sound bites with print reporters, you do have
to keep an interview focused and directed at all times, because even though a
newspaper or magazine writer may start out with a greater understanding of the
situation being covered, watch out, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

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With more time to develop background for a story, a reporter may also develop a
questionable angle or premise. Watch for a reporter’s hidden agenda or
preconceived notions about your organization/product/issue.

And while quotes will be checked, never ask to read or preview a story before it
is printed.

Handling the Interview

Staying in Control

Often, when people find themselves in the media spotlight, they forget that they
are not at the news media mercy. You have more control than you think. Even
if a situation seems uncontrollable, remember that you always have control over
your actions and words. Information is power and you have the ability to use that
power in a positive way to communicate a persuasive message.

The key to successful communication with the news media is understanding how
the media works and staying confident and in control. Appearing confident
allows you to approach the interview as an educated expert, an equal, and a
credible source of information. Staying in control, allows you to control your
presentation and your body language – to take an active role in shaping the
message. Remember…

                  - You are not at the news media’s mercy.
                  - You are a valuable source of information.
                  - You may not be able to control the events, but you can
                    control your response to them.
                  - You can’t control the media, but you can shape the media’s
                    coverage by what you say or don’t say.

In the end, the best way to stay in front of the media is to have a communication
plan. A plan that is flexible and fluid and is based on a firm understanding of the
news media’s needs, motivations and methods.

The Request

Try to determine what the reporter wants to accomplish in the interview if you
don’t already know. Why are you doing the interview? What is the story about? If
it is not obvious to you, ask.

Why do you want to talk to me? How does my viewpoint fit into the story?
You may discover they are after information that is really outside your area of

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What do you want to talk about?
Discovering the subject areas they want to explore will help you prepare for the
actual interview.

Who is the reporter? Who is the primary audience?
You may know that the reporter is informed about your area of expertise or you
may end up working with news reporter you will have to educate about your
organization and/or issue. Do your homework and find out who the primary
audience is. What type of publication or media outlet is calling you? What is the
interview format like – Taped? Live? In-studio? Remote?

What type of story will this be?
A story can go in several different directions -- Is this a feature story? A hard
news story? An investigative piece? Make sure you find out before beginning
the interview.

What documents have you seen? What is your deadline?
Being responsive in helping a reporter meet their deadline will go a long way in
developing a positive working relationship.


Be polite, open, and above all, honest. But remember: You are not under
subpoena. Do not let a reporter lead you or badger you.

You can successfully counter a reporter’s attempts at intimidation and maintain
control of the interview. Just bridge to your talking points!

Creating your Agenda

When preparing for an interview, set your own agenda for how you would like the
interview to take place. Consider:

   •   What is your objective?
   •   What is your headline?
   •   What are your supporting key messages?
   •   What messages do you want to avoid?

Organize you thoughts and spend time developing your key messages and
talking points. If you have more than three messages for a single story, your
story is not focused enough. Make sure your messages can also be
communicated quickly – think of the sound bite. If you can’t state your message
in 10 seconds, you haven’t done the hard work of defining the message. A
reporter will have a difficult time “capturing” the sound bite out of a long, rambling
sentence, or worse yet, they might capture the wrong sound bite.

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Remember to keep messages simple. Take the initiative, control the interview
and don’t wait for good questions.

Your answers

If you’ve done your part, you will have an idea of what the reporter will want to
learn. In advance of the interview, write down potential questions and be sure
that you know the answers to each of them. Also be prepared to answer
controversial questions. It is much better to be prepared for the “worse-case”
scenario than be caught off guard.

A concise answer to a reporter’s questions can keep you in control of the
interview. Think in terms of three-part answers: statement, explanation
(support), and conclusion (summary). And remember to practice. The more
comfortable you are going into the interview, the more confidence you will exude.

Intimidation Tactics

Learn to recognize the intimidation techniques a reporter might employ. They

Question Type               Definition/Objective

Loaded Preface              A long preamble to a question, usually containing
                            false and or loaded statements.

False Premise               An attempt to lure you into taking an extreme position.

Quotation                   A “fishing trip” by the reporter, who is trying to get a
                            colorful copy out of you by referencing a third party.

Hypothetical                The reporter tries to get you to react on an emotional
                            level, perhaps to establish an inconsistency.

Divide & Conquer            The reporter tries to drive a wedge between you and
                            someone with whom you should be carefully aligned.

Negative Entrapment         A line of questioning that tries to uncover something
                            wrong with your organization.

Paraphrasing                The reporter draws his own conclusion and tries to
                            get you to agree with it.

Mental preparation

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Interviewing with the media should be a positive experience, if you do your
homework. You don’t want to seem defensive. Reporters will pick up on
defensiveness very quickly, so will the camera if this is a TV interview. Take the
media interview for what it is: This is a really rare opportunity to tell this
reporter’s public about what you are doing and why it is important. Remember
your key interview techniques and enjoy the experience.

Key Interview Techniques


Once you have recognized a reporter’s use of intimidating questioning
techniques, you do not have to stop talking. You “bridge” from the reporter’s
inappropriate question to your own talking point. It’s okay to say, “On the
contrary...”, “You’ve asked too many important questions, the one important
response I have is...” Use smooth connecting phrases. Examples include:

“Our position is...”
“My vision is...”
 “That’s one point of view. Let me give you another.”
 “The other side of that issue is...”
 “Our view is...”
 “Yes, and...”

Interview Tips

   •   Never speak “off the record”.
   •   Stick to the facts.
   •   Do not speculate or guess.
   •   Do not offer personal opinions.
   •   If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say “I don’t know”
       but promise to get the answer before the deadline.
   •   Speak from the viewer/listener/reader perspective.
   •   Tell the truth.
   •   Be helpful and a resource.
   •   You don’t have to talk about things you don’t want to (or can’t) talk about.
   •   Have your own message. Each interview presents opportunity to say
       something positive. Bridge to your messages at every opportunity.
   •   If you make a mistake, set it straight as soon as possible.
   •   Use simple sound bites, especially for broadcast. Reporters are looking
       for these.
   •   Be prepared for the reporter. Remember that you may or may not be given
       exact questions in advance.
   •   In TV broadcast interviews, your gestures and facial expressions may say
       more than words.

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   •   In radio broadcast interviews, speak clearly and distinctly, enunciate
   •   During a crisis, deliver the facts and your message early. Clarify
       misinformation and clear up inaccurate statements immediately.
       Cooperate with local officials to coordinate communications and
       understand reporter’s needs. Be accessible to the news media to avoid
       gossip, speculation or criticizing.

Issues, Crises and Emergencies

An issue is a matter in dispute; an emerging issue is a matter that shows signs of
developing into a dispute. Disputes generally involve differing points of view
between adversaries about what should or should not be done, or how some
matter of mutual concern should be handled.

An issue can be discussed with the media over a period of time, allowing them to
develop a story.

A crisis is a stage at which all future events affecting person or organization will
be determined. It is a major turning point resulting in a permanent, drastic
change. It is far more crucial than most issues or emergencies. Crises are of
great importance, but they are rare.

A crisis requires prompt attention and access of information to the media.
However, you can take the time to establish your crisis-response plan and call in

An emergency is a sudden, usually unexpected occurrence that requires prompt
action. Crises fit that definition; but so do a great many more events. While
demanding serious attention, they do not indicate a major turning point in the
person’s or the organization’s existence. Issues become emergencies when they
develop into challenges that require action.

An emergency requires immediate presence at the scene and availability to
reporters, even if your statement is that you are gathering facts. Bring in the
organization’s General Manager or Board President to represent your operation
to the media as soon as possible. Keep the media informed of the facts on a
regular basis, including how you plan to respond to the emergency situation.

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“I came, I saw, I appeared on Television.”

So you’ve decided you want to tell your story through the news media. Start by
answering these questions:

1) Would it be news worthy if your competitors said it?

2) Why does it matter to the readers, viewers, listeners?

3) What’s the conflict? The pivotal point of the story? (angle/hook)

4) Does your story “fit” the medium?
   • Newspapers: can go into mere depth, needs good resources for
   • TV: needs visuals -- spokesperson to make the point in 10 seconds.
   • Radio: needs sound -- good interview subjects that are brief and to the

5) What else is happening regionally or nationally that you can tag your story to?
Consider timing, other issues that will make your story relevant.

6) What’s the best way to get the information to the media?

A few final tips:

   •   Reporters generally feel overworked, underpaid and on deadlines. Know
       this. Respect this.
   •   Become a resource to the media. Comment on trends, issues as they
       relate to this region. Localize stories. Provide attributable documentation
       to your claims.
   •   Know the media format you’re pitching to. Become familiar with the
       reporter’s style and history in covering your issues.
   •   Return reporter’s calls. Respond in timely manner. Accommodate
   •   If you can’t comment on an issue or event, refer to someone who can.
   •   (Or else give explanation as to why you can’t comment -- i.e.: “in
   •   Use technology:
                -Many reporters have e-mail addresses.
                -Monitor information on web sites.
                -Monitor AP, offer to localize stories.
                -Scan stories on your topic; follow news trends in covering your
   •   Include ethnic media when you tell your story:

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              -Provide bilingual spokespersons.
              -Identify relevance of information to specific ethnic communities.

   •   Don’t think you are simply having a conversation with a reporter – ever.
       Every interaction you have with a reporter should be considered an
       interview. Think of an interview as a billboard you’re painting with words.
       Make your point succinctly and stay on message.

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While all minority groups are distinct, there are some basic similarities among
most ethnic groups that are important to understand. There must be relevance to
anything pitched to the media, whether it be mainstream or ethnic.

   •   Have a spokesperson of the same ethnicity as the audience you are
       targeting. Your effort will be appreciated by the media, especially where
       other languages, such as Spanish, are concerned. It is important to make
       sure the spokesperson is knowledgeable on the subject and not just of the
       appropriate ethnicity.

   •   Train the spokesperson(s) to be effective with the media. Take the extra
       step to make sure the spokesperson understands the culture and nuances
       of the audience being addressed. Be prepared to answer difficult
       questions such as, "How come only one staff person speaks Spanish
       when most of your target audience is Latino?"

   •   Avoid generalizing all races when making references to specific groups.
       Do not say "Hispanics" if you mean Mexican or use "Asians" when
       referring to Chinese.

   •   Have materials in the ethnic-appropriate language when possible. If you
       are conducting ethnic media outreach, the news releases will get greater
       attention if they are provided to the media in the same language as the
       publication. Many media outlets have minimal budgets and cannot afford
       to translate materials. Often a decision is based on what material is
       readily available.

   •   Know the media you are pitching. Read the publication, listen to the radio
       station or watch the TV program.

   •   Ensure your story is relevant to ethnic media.

   •   Make sure to also use appropriate titles and be aware of each nationality's
       distinct culture, customs and values.

   •   Always be professional. Ethnic media is a multi-million dollar industry,
       staffed by trained journalists, reporters and writers. They do their
       homework, so make sure you do yours.

   •   Build and maintain a basic media database. This rule applies to all media
       relations efforts. Invest in a comprehensive media directory that has a
       broad listing of Latino, Asian and African-American focused media outlets.

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   •   Know that people who work in the media tend to move around often, so
       make sure you keep your database current with the most recent contacts
       to maintain ongoing relationships.

   •   Recruit a credible media spokesperson. The spokesperson who
       represents your organization should be a member of the community the
       Latino, Asian or African-American media serve. The spokesperson will
       have more credibility if he or she is able to articulate the needs, concerns
       and views of the community involved.

   •   Train your media spokesperson to become an expert on your
       organization's relevant issues; you'll want that particular ethnic media
       outlet to look to your organization as an authoritative source to contact for
       background information, referrals, etc., regarding education and school-
       related issues.

   •   Try to develop a key contact person at the various media. Send an
       introductory letter with a business card to the appropriate person (either
       an editor or reporter) and tell him or her about your organization.

   •   Find out the editorial deadlines and whether or not the outlet accepts
       submissions by e-mail or fax. Include this information in your database.

   •   When distributing press releases, make sure they are clear, concise and
       double-spaced with a contact phone number at the top of the page. Make
       sure they are free of typos and improper grammar. Because many ethnic
       newspapers are often short-staffed, they will most likely use news
       releases and articles that are ready to print "as is."

   •   Try to include graphics or pictures with your press releases and articles.
       Your organization stands a better chance of getting something published if
       you include an interesting graphic element or a photo of people who are
       recognizable in the community.

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A public service announcement (PSA) is an audio or video public service
message that seeks to reach a specific audience and encourages them to
change their behavior, change their attitude and/or take action.

Examples of public service campaigns that have successfully utilized PSAs
include traffic safety programs (designated driver and seatbelt messages), anti-
smoking campaigns and AIDS awareness. Public service campaigns may also
include print ads, bus shelters, billboards and posters.

For the most part, public service announcements are part of "free media," that is,
no one was paid to run the PSA. However, there is something known as "paid
public service" and that usually happens when a corporate sponsor is partnered
with to underwrite the cost of airing the spot. It still costs less than a regular
commercial spot.

How to get started:

•      Decide what message you want to get out to the public

•      Identify your target audience (e.g. local business leaders or parents)

•      Identify the media you want to use (TV vs. radio)

•      Decide on the "call to action" — what is it you want the audience to do
       after they have seen or heard the PSA

•      Talk to the TV or radio station about the possibility of their producing and
       airing the spot

       Pro: Cost of producing the spot is carried by the station and they will be
       more likely to air it
       Con: You will be limited to running the spot only on that one particular

•      Seek corporate partnerships or in-kind donations to cover the costs of
       producing the spot (i.e. work with a university's film program to take on the
       project free of charge, or locate a production company willing to donate
       some or all of their time)


•      Production of PSAs can run anywhere from $5,000–$100,000. The key is
       partnerships, donations and volunteers. Media partnerships are very
       effective, as the media are then more likely to run the spot.

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•      One way to help cover the costs associated with producing a PSA is to
       contact one of your local television stations to see if they are interested in
       this issue and in partnering with your organization to produce the spot. If
       they are, they will usually work with you to draft a script, will shoot the spot
       with their own crew and then will air it on their station. This does limit your
       spot to being aired only on one station, but it increases your chance of the
       PSA being aired.

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Sample PSA Pitch Letter
                             [YOUR LETTERHEAD]


[Name], Public Service Director
[TV/Radio Station]

Dear [Name]:

Educating our youth is a community effort. Our children’s success requires the
cooperation of schools, parents, community groups, organizations and

Roosevelt High School wants to remind your audience that they can get involved
and help kids in their community succeed in school– even if they don’t have any!

There are many ways they can become involved. Enclosed are sample scripts
for public service announcements in varying formats. I will call you next week to
discuss the possibilities of airing these messages. In the meantime, should you
have any questions, please call me at [phone number] or e-mail me at [e-mail].

Thank you for your time and consideration.



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Sample PSAs

:15 seconds

X X thousand high school students will graduate this year and many of them will
enter the work force. Have we prepared them enough? Get involved with a
school in your community and make sure. To find out how, call XXX-XXX-XXXX.

:30 seconds

X X thousand high school students will graduate this year and many of them will
enter the work force. Have we prepared them enough? As a part of the
community there’s a lot you can do to make sure – even if you’re not a parent.
Whether you’re a business leader, parent or just a concerned citizen - get
involved. To find out how, call XXX-XXX-XXXX.

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Sample Media Advisory Format
                             [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  CONTACT: Name
[Date]                                                          Organization
                                                                Phone #
                                                                Cell #

                         DESCRIPTIVE HEADLINE
                Sub-Headline with Key Supporting Information

WHAT:         Describe what is happening at event or news conference. What is
              the reason for holding the event (e.g. to educate or inform the
              public, create awareness, release information)?

WHO:          List speakers and participants in order of importance, including
              titles. Double-check the spelling of all names.

WHERE:        Include exact location including street address, floor, suite number
              and parking instructions. Be sure to include an alternate location in
              case of inclement weather. Have a backup location secured in

WHEN:         Include day of the week, date and exact time. Specify a.m. or p.m.
              Double-check dates and times for accuracy.

WHY:          Explain why the event is taking place. Highlight key statistics
              supporting your issue and make the story local.

VISUALS:      Include key visual elements that will help the media tell the story.
              Visual elements may include a demonstration, graphic charts or
              displays, a large gathering of community or organization members,
              etc. Remember, pictures sell the story.


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   CONTACT: Jane Smith
August 21, 2007                                         Roosevelt High School
                                                        Phone (323) 555-1111
                                                        Cell Phone (323) 555-2222

                    FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
          The Dodgers and Other Los Angeles Businesses Recruiting Youth to
                           Participate in Fall Internships

WHAT:         Roosevelt High School will host the city’s only high school intern job fair, on
              Saturday September 15th. The event will feature an abundance of
              exhibitors that will provide valuable information about opportunities to intern
              for companies such as State Farm Insurance and the Dodgers.

              Fair exhibitors will provide and accept applications that will be made
              available at the event. Fifty businesses within Los Angeles are
              participating. The event is free for high school seniors and will feature
              exhibits, raffles and giveaways.

WHEN:         Saturday, September 15, 2007: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

              456 South Matthews Street
              Los Angeles, CA 90033

WHO:          Companies participating include:
                • The Los Angeles Dodgers
                • Boeing
                • State Farm Insurance
                • Nestlé
                • Neutrogena
                • Bank of America
                • Universal Studios Hollywood

WHY:          The event is intended to encourage the city’s XXX thousand high school
              seniors to not only begin thinking about their future careers, but to become
              involved in them now.

VISUALS:      High school seniors talking with recruiters at major companies from all over
              Los Angeles.

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Sample News Release Format
                                  [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               CONTACT: Name
September 15, 2007                                           Organization
                                                             Phone #
                                                             Cell #

                             DESCRIPTIVE HEADLINE
                    Sub-Headline with Key Supporting Information

[City, State] — Paragraph #1 should include the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and
“why” of your story. It is usually easiest to repeat your headline and sub-head as the first

Paragraph #2 should address the “why” aspect of the story. Provide statistical
information, recent research, and any other relevant information to explain why the
agency/organization is undertaking this event or activity.

Paragraph #3 should address the “what” (and “how” if appropriate) aspect of the story.
Include complete information about activities, speakers, demonstrations, etc.

Paragraph #4 should be a supporting quote from the “who” involved in the story. The
quote should illustrate key messages and should add depth to the story. The quoted
individual might be the school’s Principal, a distinguished speaker, community leader, or
industry/issue expert.

Paragraph #5 should address the “where” and “when” aspects of the story.

Paragraph #6 should be the agency or organizations boilerplate (i.e. mission statement)


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                                  [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             CONTACT: Jane Smith
September 15, 2007                                         Roosevelt High School
                                                           Phone (323) 555-1111
                                                           Cell Phone (323) 555-2222

     “Intern Fair” Provided Opportunity for Students to Begin their Career Path Today

       LOS ANGELES — Roosevelt High School hosted the city’s only intern fair today
and an estimated XX,XXX students turned out to get their applications in to the more
than fifty businesses that exhibited.
       “Today’s Intern Fair was a huge success!” declared Roosevelt High School
Principal, Cecilia Quemada. “We successfully connected thousands of students with
local companies that can help them begin to obtain the real world work experience they
need that will help them to be successful in their future careers. It was an exciting and
rewarding day for everyone.”
       The Intern Fair included more than 50 exhibitors and sponsors who offered free
interview advice, job information, and applications for students interested in fall
internships. The fair also featured numerous local artists and performers who
entertained fair-goers for hours on end.
       Neutrogena, State Farm Insurance, Nestle, Boeing, Bank of America, Universal
Studios Hollywood and the Dodgers are among the more than 50 Los Angeles
companies that participated in today’s event.
       “The Los Angeles Dodgers believes that it is important to provide our youth with
the resources and information they need to build successful futures,” said Roger
Thomson, marketing manager for the Dodgers.

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Intern Fair Release

In addition to job recruitment, the Intern Fair provided students with an opportunity to
attend a workshop on interviewing skills presented by Roselyn Stern, the Los Angeles
regional human resources director for Bank of America.

The Intern Fair is a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s campaign to
outreach to high school students throughout Los Angeles to provide them with the
information, tools and resources they need for success. Fair sponsors included KTTV
Channel 11, Act 1 Personnel Staffing, Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., El Torito and 93.3


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Sample Calendar Release Format
                             [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  CONTACT: Name
[Date]                                                          Organization
                                                                Phone #
                                                                Cell #

                         DESCRIPTIVE HEADLINE
                Sub-Headline with Key Supporting Information

WHAT:         Describe what is happening at event or news conference. What is
              the reason for holding the event (e.g. to educate or inform the
              public, create awareness, release information)?

WHERE:        Include exact location including street address, floor, suite number
              and parking instructions. Be sure to include an alternate location in
              case of inclement weather. Have a backup location secured in

WHEN:         Include day of the week, date and exact time. Specify a.m. or p.m.
              Double-check dates and times for accuracy.

WHY:          Explain why the event is taking place. Highlight key statistics
              supporting your issue and make the story local.


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                             [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   CONTACT: Jane Smith
August 21, 2007                                         Roosevelt High School
                                                        Phone (323) 555-1111
                                                        Cell Phone(323) 555-2222

       The Dodgers and Other Los Angeles Businesses Recruiting Youth to
                        Participate in Fall Internships

WHAT:         Roosevelt High School will host the city’s only high school intern job
              fair, on Saturday September 15th. The event will feature an
              abundance of exhibitors that will provide valuable information about
              opportunities to intern for companies such as State Farm Insurance
              and the Dodgers.

              Fair exhibitors will provide and accept applications that will be
              made available at the event. Fifty businesses within Los Angeles
              are participating. The event is free for high school seniors and
              will feature exhibits, raffles and giveaways.

WHEN:         Saturday, September 15th: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

              456 South Matthews Street
              Los Angeles, CA 90033

WHO:          Companies exhibiting at the Intern Fair include:
                • The Los Angeles Dodgers
                • Boeing
                • State Farm Insurance
                • Nestlé
                • Neutrogena
                • Bank of America
                • Universal Studios Hollywood

Please contact Jane Smith at (323) 555-1111 for additional information.


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Sample Letter to the Editor Format
                                [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

Letters should be typed and signed. Be sure to include a contact name and phone
number. Maximum length is usually 200 to 300 words.


[Editor’s Name]

Dear Editor:

Paragraph #1 — Reference the article or event on which you are commenting.

Paragraph #2 — Commend or refute the opinion or point of view presented in the article
or at the event.

Paragraph #3 — Provide your solution. Cite specific things that your
agency/organization is going to do to solve the problem.

Paragraph #4 — Conclude. Include organization contact information.


Phone #

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A special event's primary value is to help reach beyond an organization's usual circle of
friends and supporters, bringing new people into the organization's support group. It is
an excellent way to get new volunteers by allowing current volunteers to involve their
families and friends. It also is frequently used to obtain significant news media
exposure for an organization and its objectives or to raise money.

As a general rule, special events can be costly and time-intensive. The most successful
are those where a large core of staff or volunteers can be recruited to handle countless
details and underwriting can be obtained for covering some or all of the expenses
involved. Without these, special events may strain the budget and staff. For this
reason, they are not considered an effective method of fundraising, but are more
valuable in raising awareness and introducing new friends to the organization.

Types of events
There are numerous kinds of special events, and it is important to select the one that
best suits an organization's purpose. Among the events to consider are the following:
• Recognition of a community leader, corporation or celebrity who has been
   instrumental in supporting the school’s goals
• Anniversary celebrations (these can be celebrating the number of years in service,
   or another kind of landmark, e.g. one million students graduated since the school’s
   founding, or similar landmark number)
• Physical changes, e.g. grand openings, dedications, renovations, groundbreakings,
   or adding major equipment for a new program (these often include tours of facility)
• Rallies or public action campaigns
• Premieres or theater parties
• Reaching a goal celebration, which is similar to an anniversary celebration (for
   example, fund-raising campaign meets goal of $1 million dollars raised)
• Volunteer recognition events
• Long-time staff recognition
• Seminar or special educational program
• Program featuring well-recognized guest speaker
• Fundraising events such as book signings, cook-offs, dance or others

Planning Criteria

   • What are the objectives of the event?
   • Does the event support Roosevelt’s mission?
   • Does it support the short-term objectives of the school?
   • Will it attract media attention?
   • Will it be fun?
   • Is the date appropriate?

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   •   Can the event be repeated?
   •   What is the "life span" of the event?
   •   What other organization or community activities will be competing with the event?
   •   Will the event be self-supporting financially?

  • Do you have the staff/volunteers with expertise to organize the event?
  • Is enough staff assigned to the event?
  • Are there enough volunteers to work on the event?
  • Who is the audience for this event? Is it adequate?
  • Does the event fit Roosevelt’s constituency?
  • Does the school have the technical capacity to do the event?

  • Does the organization have the up-front dollars to do the event?
  • How will the event impact cash flow?
  • Will you need a separate bank account?
  • How much should you charge to attend?
  • Can you get underwriting/additional funding? For what and for how much?
  • Do you expect to make money or break even?
  • What will you net?

   •   Are there any conflicts with the event and the school’s calendar?
   •   Do you have enough staff time to accomplish the event?
   •   Do you have enough lead time to be successful with the event?
   •   How much in staff time will the event cost?

Budget Considerations
  • Income Sources
  • Ticket/admission income
  • Raffle income
  • Program income, if any
  • Underwriting/additional funding
  • Sponsorships
  • Auction and silent auction
  • Product sales
  • Other

   • Cost of venue, if not at Roosevelt
   • Food and beverage costs, plus catering staff charges
   • Invitation, save-the-date cards and/or flyer design/set up/printing
   • Program design/set up/printing

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   •   Special letterhead and envelopes, if appropriate
   •   Tickets or other miscellaneous printing
   •   Mailing costs and postage
   •   Purchase of mailing lists, if appropriate
   •   Rental needs, e.g. chairs, tables, podium, audiovisual equipment
   •   Decorations, e.g. flowers, centerpieces, balloons, etc.
   •   Entertainment, e.g. musicians, magicians, etc.
   •   Photographer
   •   Awards
   •   Giveaway items or favors
   •   Staff support costs
   •   Insurance, if needed
   •   Security, if needed
   •   Bank charges for credit card(s) use
   •   Media relations/publicity costs, including press kits
   •   Travel for celebrities or others
   •   Honorarium for speakers, special guests
   •   Volunteer recognition materials
   •   Advertising, if needed
   •   Telephone charges
   •   Prizes, if appropriate

Six months prior to the event:

       Plan event goals, objectives, budget
       Reserve venue and equipment
       Reserve caterer, if separate from venue
       Select honorary chairpersons, if appropriate
       Select appropriate entertainment persons, such as musicians
       Secure honorees and/or celebrities, if appropriate
       Begin soliciting sponsorship and underwriting
       Secure volunteers and volunteer groups' commitment to participate and assign

Five months prior to the event:

       Select and prepare promotional and incentive items, recruitment letters
       Compile lists of potential participants/attendees
       Develop promotional/publicity/advertising campaign, begin preparing materials

Four months prior to the event:

       Confirm facility and equipment reservations
       Confirm sponsorship and underwriting

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       Final approval on artwork and copy for invitations, save-the-date cards, Fliers,
       advertising, etc.
       Meet with staff and volunteer committees to confirm assigned tasks and
       Prepare initial press release material, naming honorary and/or volunteer leaders
       Confirm honorees' and/or celebrities' involvement; provide complete background
       information to familiarize them with the School and the goals of the event
       Confirm entertainment
       Confirm caterer

Three months prior to the event:

       Send initial mailing to prospective attendees
       Order promotional and incentive items
       Determine if telemarketing follow-up is necessary — if so, assign task, prepare
       script and conduct training

Two months prior to the event:

       Conduct telemarketing, if appropriate
       Confirm delivery date of ordered items (promotional items, awards, favors, etc.)
       Send special invitations to media representatives, if appropriate
       Follow up with staff and volunteer committees to assure their tasks are underway
       Measure current status of event against goals and objectives, determine what
       added promotional activities might be necessary

One month prior to the event:

       Confirm agenda for event with participants, provide necessary scripts for
       participants, if needed
       Confirm all event details for event day, i.e. venue, caterer, entertainment,
       decorations, displays, rental equipment
       Begin training for volunteers working at the event, e.g. how to handle reservation
       table, hosting activities, etc.
       Hold walk-through for appropriate volunteers and staff

Two weeks prior to the event:

       Prepare evaluation forms, if appropriate
       Continue media relations activities
       Cope with last-minute crises

One week prior to the event:

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Roosevelt High School
       Confirm again with all participants, clarify any questions regarding agenda that
       they may have, determine special needs or requests they may have and make
       appropriate arrangements
       Confirm numbers with caterer or catering department, if necessary
       Confirm that all materials have been delivered or will be delivered on time for the

Day before the event:

       Handle as much of set up of venue as appropriate

Day of event:

       Set up venue
       Conduct run-through with staff and volunteers
       Handle additional last-minute crises
       Have a good time

Post event:

       Thank all staff, volunteers, sponsors and underwriters
       Evaluate event using goals and objectives
       Determine whether event is appropriate to repeat annually

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Sample Special Event Invitation Letter
                                 [YOUR LETTERHEAD]
August 20, 2007

Dear [Insert name],

Did you know that there are XX,XXX high school seniors that will be graduating at the
end of this school year? Upon graduating, each one of them will be entering the job
market and Roosevelt High School is planning an event to help them prepare.

On Saturday, September 15th from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Roosevelt will be hosting an “Intern
Fair” for high school seniors across Los Angeles where they can come and learn about
local businesses and apply for fall internships that will help them gain the real world
experience they need to be successful.

The Intern Fair is sure to be an exciting event that will greatly benefit the local
community, and your attendance is crucial to its success.

The goal of the event is to provide Los Angeles students with a leg up in the job market
they will soon be entering.

Community residents, elected officials and local businesses are all invited to take part in
the event and do their part to prepare our youth.

The event will begin with workshops providing important tips on interview skills
and techniques from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. High school seniors will then be able to
speak with one of the many businesses that will be exhibiting at the Intern Fair
and accepting applications. To participate, please arrive by 9 a.m. at Roosevelt
High School.

All verified high school senior and volunteers will receive free goodie bags, along
with a certificate of recognition for their participation.

The Intern Fair at Roosevelt High School is sure to be an exciting endeavor that will
help our youth to be successful upon entering the job market after graduation. I
encourage you to participate with your high school seniors and be a part of the
community-wide training and recruitment effort.

For more information, please contact Jane Smith at (323) 555-1111. Thank you for your
consideration. I look forward to seeing you on September 15th.

Cecilia Quemada, Principal
Roosevelt High School

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Sample Special Event Flier

                           [Insert appropriate logos]

           Join us at for Los Angeles’ first
                      Intern Fair!

         This is a FREE event for all Los Angeles high school seniors.

                          Saturday, September 15th
                           Roosevelt High School
                          456 South Mathews Street
                           Los Angeles, CA 90033

    More than 50 businesses from around Los Angeles will be accepting
      applications for internship from all qualified high school seniors.

        Workshops on developing interview skills will also be provided.

                 For more information please call 323-555-1111.

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Understanding the Sponsorship Relationship

Companies — large and small — are interested in sponsoring community organizations
and events. Big names like NIKE, AT&T and other corporate giants receive
considerable attention.

But just as valuable to community organizations and schools is the support of local
banks, markets, clothing shops, bike shops, and restaurants. They all see
sponsorships— or partnering with community organizations as a valuable marketing
opportunity, much like advertising and promotions.

Sponsorships of community based organizations or programs are unique because they
improve the company’s relationship with the community at large and their target
audience while enhancing their image. Underwriting an event or contest organized by a
community based organization, for example, builds community goodwill. Furthermore,
sponsorship gives companies direct access to their desired target audience.

For example, a new soft drink manufacturer may want to target younger people and
sponsor a community sports league. A local bank may want to play a stronger role in
the community by attracting long-standing customers away from the larger bank that
seems out of touch with their customers and sponsor a community-centered activity for
small businesses or families with children.

A regional restaurant may sponsor an organization so the community becomes aware of
their newly opened branch. These types of sponsorships allow companies to develop
valuable alliances with the community and to build on the valuable relationships that
many community based organizations have with their constituency. This value— or
equity is highly desirable.

From local grocers, restaurants, flower shops, or car dealerships, to national snack food
manufacturers, television stations or airlines, there are potential sponsors everywhere.

The key to attracting corporate partners is your ability to effectively position your
organization, the valued services you provide and the communities you serve along with
the benefits that will result from an alliance with your organization and programs.

Evaluating your Assets

Your challenge is to communicate to potential sponsors why such a partnership is
beneficial to them. Think of your organization’s valuable assets.
   • What is the mission of your organization?
   • What is your organization’s relationship with the community?
   • Who are you targeting?

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   •   How do you get your message across?
   •   Research potential sponsors and determine their marketing niche.
   •   Who are they targeting?

Sponsorships may come from marketing budgets rather than charity contributions.

Find out company’s marketing goals and match request to meet their objectives for
better luck.

Potential sponsors may share an interest in reaching the community your
organization serves—youth, families with children, etc. A communications pipeline —
collateral materials, mailing lists, media coverage, event advertising, etc., brings added
value to sponsorship opportunities.

Remember to be flexible in case of possible objections or hesitation a potential sponsor
may have with your ideas.

What’s the Benefit to your Sponsors?

Now that you have identified your organization’s assets (or beneficial programs)
translate them into benefits for your potential sponsor.

A community sports league may sell snacks at their weekly games donated by a local
deli. For the deli, this would translate into weekly opportunities for people to sample
their product.

A soup kitchen may host a monthly canned food drive and partner with a local record
store to give donors a coupon for $1 off any CD, if they donate five cans. This would
translate into more visitors to their store and increased sales.

A high school could hold a bake sale in front of a grocery store. For the grocery store,
this would mean more customers entering their store who may usually frequent other
stores, and possibly switch their company loyalty.

Create a Compelling Proposal

A proposal is the ideal way to convey your organization’s assets and your potential
sponsor’s benefits.

   •   Your proposal has to be effective and clear. Keep it simple and short. Proposals
       that are too long may discourage readers.
   •   Tailor your proposal to fit each potential sponsor. Some potential sponsors will
       be able to make larger monetary donations, whereas smaller sponsors may be
       able to donate products, resources, or services.

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   •   Offer a few options, but don't limit your organization. Be open to the sponsor's
   •   Also include some information about other sponsors or promotional deals.

Making the Contact

   •   Do your homework before-hand to identify appropriate contact person, spelling of
       names, titles, and other pertinent information.

   •   Assign one person from your organization to be a liaison with that contact. If
       someone in your organization already knows a person within the company, then
       position that person as a resource to pitch your sponsorship idea, or to help
       identify the best person within the company to approach.

   •   Make sure you follow up with the contact at every stage of the process. If they
       are unable to help you, always ask if they know of anyone else that might be able
       to, or if they can refer you to others that might be interested in a sponsorship

   •   Maintain detailed records of conversations, contacts and specific information.
       Although your first request may not always result in success, be persistent. Don’t
       get discouraged!


Acknowledgments throughout the program are as important as your initial contact.

Keeping an open line of communication with your sponsor is the best way to maintain
and nurture a successful relationship. Do not call sponsors only when it’s time for
another fundraiser. Invite them to events and meetings throughout the year, with the
understanding they have busy schedules and may not always be able to attend. The
thought and invitation are appreciated.

   •   Always provide the sponsor with a report detailing the event or program and the
       benefits that were derived both for the organization and the sponsor.

   •   Be generous with your praise and appreciation. Building a positive relationship
       for the longer term will create a bridge for future sponsorship opportunities.

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Sample Letter Donation/Sponsorship
Request Letter
                                           [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

August 21, 2007

To:      NAME, ORG

Fr:      Cecilia Quemada, Principal

Re:      Sponsorship Request


Did you know that there are XX,XXX high school seniors that will be graduating at the
end of this school year? Upon graduating, each one of them will be entering the job
market and Roosevelt High School is planning an event to help them prepare.

On Saturday, September 15th from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Roosevelt will be hosting an “Intern
Fair” for high school seniors across Los Angeles where they can come and learn about
local businesses and apply for fall internships that will help them gain the real world
experience they need to be successful.

The Intern Fair is sure to be an exciting event that will greatly benefit the local
community, and your participation is crucial to help further this effort.

Sponsorship involvement opportunities include:
  • Participation as an exhibitor - accepting applications from high school seniors
     hoping to secure an internship this fall.
  • Donating refreshments - such as bottled water, prepackaged snacks,
     muffins/bagels and/or coffee.
  • Donating giveaway items, such as coupons, pencils, magnets or other goodie
     bag favors.
  • Recruiting event volunteers and distributing event fliers at your place of business.
  • Financial contributions to provide support in the areas where it is most needed

In exchange for your donation, you will receive booth space at the Intern Fair event to
distribute your company information and giveaway items. We will also include your
company name and/or logo on our event fliers and media materials.

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If you are interested in participating in this important event, please contact Jane Smith
at (323) 555-1111 or fax the attached response form to (323) 555-1112 by September

I appreciate your attention to this important issue and hope to see you at the Intern Fair
at Roosevelt High School.


Cecilia Quemada, Principal
Roosevelt High School


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YES!         I will be a partner in the Intern Fair at Roosevelt High School

I will:
          DONATE (please list items)                        RECRUIT

          Refreshments                                      Employees

          Decorative supplies                               Customers
                                                            (distribute fliers)

          Giveaway items


NO, I will not be able to participate in the Intern Fair.

            Please fax this form back to Jane Smith at (323) 555-1112
                           no later than September 10th.
              Thank you for helping the young people of Los Angeles County!

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Sample Donation/Sponsorship
Thank You Letter
                                [YOUR LETTERHEAD]

September 20, 2007


Dear NAME,

Thank you for your donation to the Intern Fair Event, hosted by Roosevelt High School
on Saturday, September 15, 2007. Your contribution enabled us to provide
refreshments, event souvenirs and goodie bags – and most importantly career
opportunities to the thousand of high school seniors from around Los Angeles.

The event was a huge success, and included more than 100 volunteers, more than 50
businesses exhibiting and thousands of high school seniors.

The support of organizations, such as (INSERT ORG. NAME), is critical to the success
of our youth. Roosevelt High School appreciates your donation to the Intern Fair and
applauds you for supporting this community effort. Enclosed please find a certificate of
recognition for your generous contribution.

Should you have any questions about the Intern Fair or future Roosevelt High School
events please feel free to contact me at (323) XXX-XXXX.


Cecilia Quemada, Principal
Roosevelt High School

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Working with Diverse Communities

Working with diverse communities requires sensitivity, openness, and a genuine desire
to know and work with the community on an ongoing basis. The key to success will be
building trust and credibility. This often takes time, yet the rewards are significant.

One of the most important initial steps is to gather information about the community.
This information will help you better understand the culture or cultures of the community
and help you develop appropriate programs. A person's culture is a shared set of
beliefs, assumptions, values, practices and experiences. It shapes how a person
defines oneself, behavior, attitudes and how a person reacts to the wider community. A
non-judgmental understanding of these different beliefs and practices, as well as how
they differ from your own, will increase the effectiveness of your outreach. Find out what
ways other organizations have approached outreach to this community and whether or
not it has been successful. Then assess why they succeeded or failed.

Some of the things to consider when making your assessment of a community you wish
to influence are:

   •   What are and have been the major social, economic and political concerns of
       your target community, in particular, has discrimination impeded their access to
       education, employment, housing, healthcare or other vital human services?
   •   What is the political status of the group? (Undocumented? Refugee? Legal
       immigrant? Citizen?)
   •   What levels of literacy in English or other languages exist?
   •   What are the educational levels within the target community?
   •   What organizations successfully serve the different groups within the target
       community? How do the values of the group differ from the general or your own
   •   What is the predominant family structure? (Single parent? Two-parent
       household? Extended family group? What are the traditional roles of different
       family members?
   •   What are the demographics? (Elderly? Youthful? Young adults?)
   •   How many and which languages or dialects are spoken?
   •   What are the formal and informal channels of information?
   •   What has the target community's experience been in resolving political, social or
       health issues?
   •   Do specific religions influence this culture?
   •   Who are the religious leaders?
   •   Are there conflicts among several religions within the target community?
   •   Where does this target community live predominantly?
   •   What publications/broadcasting media influence this audience?
   •   What major historical issues are shared?

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   •   What holidays?
   •   What are the major political and economic issues facing this audience?
   •   Who are the leaders in and experts about the community?
   •   What existing organizations influence your audience?

You'll also want to assess your own organization's ability to work with agencies and
individuals in your target community. Consider the following:

   •   What is the range of cultural values and beliefs within your own organization?
   •   How are these different from those of your target community?
   •   Are they the same?
   •   How do your staff's beliefs influence their attitudes about a different community?
   •   Is your staff experienced in working with diverse communities?
   •   Do you need to provide education about diverse communities and/or sensitivity
       training for your staff?
   •   How will your target community respond to your staff?

Other valuable questions to assess your effectiveness in reaching the target community:
   • Why do you want to work with this community?
   • What are you attempting to accomplish?
   • How consistent is your goal with what the community would like to accomplish?
   • Does your organization have a history with the community? Negative? Positive?
   • Are there reasons the target community might question your commitment or
   • Do you have the appropriate resources to work with the target community?
   • If your outreach is successful, how will you work to maintain the program after
      your organization completes its outreach?
   • If not successful in your goals, how will you deal with this without damaging the
      relationships you have established in the community?

In your outreach to the community, you most likely will talk with many individuals from
that community. It may be important to your success to develop key individuals who will
become your resource people and planning experts. You can start with five to 10
different individuals from the community or from organizations within the target
community. You may draw from political and government officials, community social
workers, religious leaders, informal community leaders and business or healthcare
professionals. These people can form a key advisory committee to work with your

If you do form such a group, the following will be helpful in working with them:

   •   Keep your contacts informed of progress and regularly check in with them to
       discuss assumptions, plans and directions the outreach is taking.

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   •   Offer something in return for their assistance to foster goodwill and create a
       balanced relationship. (This could be something as simple as offering training to
       their staff or contributing to a scholarship program).

   •   Always provide recognition, praise and thanks to those who help you.

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State and local policymakers want to hear from their constituents — you — the voters in
their districts and communities. Examples of key policymakers include: the governor,
lieutenant governor, local mayors, State Senators and Assembly members, County
Board of Supervisors, city council members and school board members. The following
provides ideas to engage policymakers and some guidelines for you to follow when
contacting these people in person, by phone or by letter.

Ideas to Engage Policymakers

    •   Send a letter of introduction and ask for an introductory meeting. Call for an
        appointment during office hours. At the meeting, explain who you are and what
        you are trying to accomplish. Bring local facts about RHS and your role in your
        community and offer to serve as a resource.
    •   Develop relationships with staff members and position yourself as a resource.
    •   Put the policymaker on your mailing list and provide accurate, concise, high-
        quality written materials.
    •   Identify those policymakers that have a special interest in the issue—those with
        teenagers and/or personal experience with the issue.
    •   Invite the policymaker or their staff to one of your events.
    •   Invite the policymaker to visit an after-school program or other school activity
    •   Invite the policymaker to speak at a special event, luncheon or a meeting.
    •   Honor policymakers that have dedicated time, energy and resources towards
        addressing community problems and issues by presenting them with an award.

Contacting Your Legislators: Some Clues to Protocol

Basic Guidelines

•   Be Thoughtful, Reasonable & Realistic.
    Commend the things which the policymaker does right. Recognize that there are
    legitimate differences of opinion. Remember the most controversial legislation is the
    result of compromise. Don’t expect that everything will go your way, and don’t be
    too critical when it doesn’t.

•   Be Accurate & Factual.
    Make certain that you have the necessary information and do a good job of
    presenting your case. If an issue goes against you, don’t rush to blame the
    policymaker for failing to do what you wanted.

•   Be Friendly.
    Don’t contact the policymaker only when you want his or her vote. Invite them or
    their staff to your group meetings. Take pains to keep in touch throughout the year.

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•   Give Credit Where it is Due.
    If an issue goes the way you wanted, remember that the policymaker deserves first
    credit. And remember the additional organizations and individuals that participated
    on your side.

•   Learn to Evaluate Issues.
    The introduction of a legislative bill doesn’t mean that it will become law. Whether
    you are for or against it, research the who, what and why of it prior to supporting or
    opposing a measure.

•   Don’t Be Vague or Deceptive, Righteous or Long-winded.
    And please don’t remind the legislator that you are a taxpayer and voter in his or her
    district. He or she already knows that!

•   Don’t be an Extremist.
    Remember that the policymaker represents all his or her constituents — those you
    consider liberal and those you consider conservative. Don’t condemn a policymaker
    because he or she supports a piece of legislation you think is too liberal or too

•   Don’t be a Busybody.
    Policymakers don’t like to be pestered, scolded or preached to. Neither do you.

•   Be Cooperative.
    If a policymaker makes a reasonable request, try to comply with it. You can help by
    giving him or her the information he or she needs. Don't back away for fear you are
    “getting into politics.”

• Remember to Say “Thank You.”
Thank the member or staff for their time and attention and any future commitments they
have made.

Letter Writing Guidelines

•   Be brief.
•   Explain how the proposed legislation affects your program and why you support or
    oppose it.
•   Don’t attempt to give “expert” opinions. Tell how the legislation would affect your
    program/school, based on your experience and knowledge.
•   Refer to bill numbers whenever possible.
•   Ask for the policymaker’s support or opposition.
•   Write the letter without copying any association, foundation or organization —
    provide background information verbatim — the personal approach is always

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•   Request that the policymaker take specific action by telling him or her what you
    desire. State the facts as you see them. Avoid emotional arguments. If you use
    dollar figures, be realistic.
•   Ask the policymaker what his or her position is.
•   Keep all communications friendly and respectful. Be sure to thank the policymaker
    for considering your views.
•   Write on personal or business letterhead if possible, and sign your name over your
    typed signature at the end of your letter.
•   Be sure your exact return address is on the letter, not just the envelope.
•   Address all letters in the following manner, unless you are on a first name basis:

    State Legislature:

    •   Assembly Member

        The Honorable (First Name) (Last Name)
        California State Assembly
        State Capitol, Room (#)
        Sacramento, CA 95814

        Dear Assemblyman/Assemblywoman (Last Name):

    •   Senator

        The Honorable (First Name) (Last Name)
        California State Senate
        State Capitol, Room (#)
        Sacramento, CA 95814

        Dear Senator (Last Name):

    Local Elected Officials:

    •   City Council Member

        The Honorable (First Name) (Last Name)
        City of ________
        City Hall
        City, CA Zip Code

        Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss (Last Name):

    •   County Supervisor

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       The Honorable (First Name) (Last Name)
       Supervisor, _____ County
       County Seat
       City Hall
       City, CA Zip Code

       Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss (Last Name):

Guidelines for District Visits

Whether you will meet one-on-one or with a group, plan the meeting and develop an
agenda to cover all the points you wish to make and determine who will say what.

•   Members of the state Legislature rely heavily on their staffs for a major portion of
    their responsibilities, i.e., attending events/meetings on their behalf, scheduling,
    advice on specific legislation, constituent problems, etc. Become acquainted with
    the staff and respect them as you would the legislator.

•   Generally, the legislative schedule permits each legislator to visit the district office on
    Fridays, holidays, and legislative recesses in July and September through

• Make an appointment.

• Always introduce yourself.
Even at a second or third meeting, don’t put the legislator or their staff member in the
awkward position of having to grope for your name.

• Get down to business quickly.
Begin on a positive note. State the Bill number, title, and author, or state the issue,
your position, and what you want him/her to do.

• Thank him or her for previous support.
Legislators like to know that you know of their record. If you don’t know their record,
thank him or her for taking the time to meet with you.

• Be specific.
Be clear and be simple. Provide information about how this issue impacts his or her
constituency and people throughout the state. Use fact sheets.

• Use personal stories or anecdotes.
Remember, your job is to persuade. A personal story will leave an image the legislator
will remember when voting on the issue.

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• Ask what you can do.
Ask if you can provide further information, arrange a tour of a program, or contact

• Leave written materials.
Your legislator will file the materials and refer to them when questions come up later
and/or when voting on the issue.

• Thank him/her again.
Send a written thank you, recapping the meeting, as soon as you return home.

Telephone Procedures

•   When the Legislature is in session, call the Capitol office; during recess and on
    Fridays, call the district office.
•   Ask to speak directly to the legislator. If he or she is not available, ask to speak to
    the administrative assistant or legislative aide.
•   State the reason for the call. Use bill numbers whenever possible.
•   Discuss only one issue per call.
•   Ask the legislator’s position. If the legislator’s position is the same as yours, express
    agreement and thanks. If your position differs, politely express disappointment, offer
    factual information supporting your views, and ask that your position be registered,
    catalogued, or noted.

(Adapted from the United Cerebral Palsy Associations publication “Guidelines for
Meeting with Public Officials.”)

Thank you for taking the time to use this Communications Tool Kit. If you have
any questions, please contact Dawn Wilcox at (310) 745-1712 or

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