PR book On-line Readings in Public Relations by Michael Turney
Working with the media:
Issue media advisories and alerts
© 1998 Michael Turney Table of contents Practicing Public Relations main page About the author

"I have stopped sending the broadcast outlets and major newspapers a traditionally written news release. Instead, I'm finding success with an outline News Advisory.

"I list the who, what, why, when and where and then add a list of what I feel are some good angles into the story. I'm finding broadcasters very appreciative of the list of angles. Identifying more than one slant to a story increases its marketability and allows broadcasters some ownership to the story."

-- London Mitchell, former news anchor turned PR consultant,
posting to PRForum (listserv), 8/15/94

Media advisories alert the media to upcoming events or stories.

In issuing a media alert or an advisory, an organization isn't attempting to tell the story itself or to write the story for the media. -- News releases are used for that. -- As the terms themselves imply, their purpose is simply to alert editors to something they may want to have their reporters cover. Whether or not it's covered, or how it's covered is left entirely up to the editor.

For many organizations, especially for-profit businesses, media alerts are a rarity. Some public relations practitioners never issue them. But, government public information officers and public relations people working for charitable or publicly-funded organizations do them all the time.

Government agencies are required to issue media alerts.

In many cases, media alerts are a legal necessity because sunshine laws that guarantee public access to government records and open meetings laws at both the state and federal level require government agencies, commissions, and board to post and/or publish public notices of their meetings and of decisions that affect members of the public. Thus, a state or county welfare agency charged with providing financial assistance to needy citizens or promoting abuse prevention, or a public works department that is repairing or upgrading the city's infrastructure might issue a dozen or more media advisories per month.

Non-profit organizations also make frequent use of media alerts as one of their tools for getting reporters to attend and cover the special events and activities they sponsor.

In the case of an important event, -- a major fund-raising activity, for instance -- experienced public relations people won't rely solely on a mailed media alert to attract media coverage, they use follow-up phone calls, personal visits, and other gambits to insure the maximum possible media attention. But, you can bet that they won't forget to issue a media alert as one element in their persuasive campaign.

How to write media alerts
(pdf tip sheet)
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Working with the media
The third step:
Visit and network
The fourth step:
News & feature releases
Practicing Public Relation
main page
3 April 2011