Local papers are always looking for interesting articles to include in each issue, and press releases about local efforts to bust weeds threatening local natural areas are a good way to raise awareness amongst readers.
If you’d like to do it yourself, here are some media hints adapted from the experiences of Weedbusting Australia.
This is your attention grabber so it needs to be brief and catchy - think creatively for this, often quirky stories or personalised stories will be picked up.
Weeds Beware - Weedbusters Are Here
Media writing must be done like a pyramid, start with your main point and filter down to the details. Consider the target audience. What would most interest them? Keep the language as simple as possible. The lead paragraph reinforces the headline and introduces the subject from the most effective angle.
Become a weedbuster this weekend on Motutapu Island where war is being waged on one of the world’s biggest moth plant infestations.
This gives the reader a clue as to the source of the subject and its relative importance. This helps readers orient themselves with the timing, location or significance of the event.
The Motutapu Restoration Trust’s weed working bee is part of the nation-wide Weedbusters campaign launched by Conservation Minister Chris Carter in Wellington last night.
Media releases carry more impact if sourced to a person. Use a quote to give details of the event or issue.
Motutapu Restoration Trust volunteer coordinator Bridget Winstone said getting rid of weeds such as moth plant and woolly nightshade was a critical part of reforesting the island.
“Our goal this year is to increase the number of regular volunteers in our weed control teams - we can never have too many.”
Now its time to provide details of the event or project and situation. This can continue as quotes by the key person or as reported material.
In launching Weedbusters, Mr Carter said he was appealing to the public to help control weeds, a problem beyond just th ability of government agencies. New Zealand had 276 weed species that harm the environment, with two new species of invasive weeds escaping into the wild every year, he said.
Support from third party
Comments from supportive individuals or organisations. Direct quotes lend impact to the media release.
Once weeds establish in an area, they are often very difficult to get rid of, said Auckland Regional Council Weedbusters coordinator Richard Gribble.
“Preventing the spread of weeds in the first place is the key. Everyone can play a part by planting environmentally-friendly plants in their gardens and being careful where weeds are dumped.
Final quote from the key person or wrap-up statement. This is the end of the media release text.
“We are really keen to see other care and community groups around the region join Weedbusters.”
Provide contact information, identify your organisation and make sure you provide after hours contact details.
Weedbusters links the efforts of DOC, regional councils, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Protect New Zealand programme, Landcare Research, Federated Farmers, Landcare Truist, Nursery and Garden Industry Assoc (Gardening NZ) and the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute.
Weedbusters activities coming up around Auckland include:
If photographs or footage are available, include this information at the bottom of the media release. List the subject and the format available (black and white, colour, slide, video, CD) and provide captions with photographs, clearly identifying the people in the picture. It is also worthwhile listing potential photo opportunities.
You can email or fax your media release to your media contact. Generally mornings are good times to do this, but think about the deadlines of the media you’re targeting and pick a time when they’ll be least frantic.
Keep your media release to one page.