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News Releases and Story Pitches: The Basics

About This Course

Doing research that no one hears about or putting on an event that no one attends is about as useful as an abacus in the digital age. Creating new knowledge, planning an event, creating a new program, opening a new business, celebrating a milestone -- no matter what your news is, if it's important to your community, you want to get it covered by media websites, highlighted in the paper and mentioned during local newscasts. But few people know how to do so effectively.

This Webinar will cover the basics: what makes an item newsworthy, how to format a news release, what information to include in the release and, most importantly, the lead, and what it takes to make an effective pitch. Getting news in front of journalists is not enough. You have to write effectively, use the right format, develop a relationship with the person you're pitching to and, most importantly, actually have news to share, not just advertising.

What Will I Learn?

  • The purpose of the inverted pyramid and why it matters in releases
  • The format of a typical news release
  • Benefit statements and tips for writing an effective lead
  • What journalists and other producers consider when determining “newsworthiness"
  • Tips for keeping pitches from being deleted before they are even read

Who Should Take this Course?

Professionals, academics, marketers and others who are not accustomed to pitching to journalists.

Course Instructor

Lorie Briggs

Lorie Briggs is a communications and marketing officer for the University of South Florida, working specifically for the USF Muma College of Business as the director of communications and external relations. Her job responsibilities are varied and include media relations, marketing, special events, social media, public relations, and other communications functions.

Prior to joining USF in 2006, Briggs worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay for 14 years, eventually serving as vice president for community relations. She was responsible for volunteer recruitment, media relations, crisis communications, marketing, and public relations functions.

Her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters began before she was ever on the payroll. Briggs, who held increasingly responsible communications positions with United Way for nearly six years in the late 1980s, began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters after her United Way job introduced her to the agency. She began serving as a Big Sister in 1988 and has since been paired as a mentor five times, the longest match lasting nine years and the most recent match concluding in 2011.

Briggs is a two-time graduate from the USF School of Mass Communications. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising in 1988. In 2013, she earned a Master of Arts in Media Studies. She serves as an adjunct instructor for the school, teaching an undergraduate-level Intro to Public Relations Writing course.

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