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How Can the Agricultural Communications News Team Help You?

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P2739
Updated: September 22, 2016
View as PDF: P2739.pdf

What Is Your Goal?

I want to invite Mississippians to attend or register for an upcoming event.

You need a news release.

I want to invite local newspapers and TV to cover an upcoming event.

You need a media advisory.

I want to publicize an event that’s already happened, and I have pictures.

You need a photo and cutline (caption).

I’d like to tell the public about a recent award or an important staff change.

You need either a news release or a photo and cutline. A news release is better if you have a lot of information to share. A photo and cutline is better if a few sentences will do.

I’d like to give participants in my program a way to announce their participation in their hometown newspapers.

You need a fill-in-the-blank news release or photo with a fill-in-the-blank cutline.

I’d like to tell Mississippians about an unusual program, person, or study in the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine.

You need a feature story.

I want to invite local people to an event.

You probably need to contact your local media outlet. If you aren’t sure whether we can help you or not, please call us at (662) 325-2262.

Types of Media We Handle

News Release

Definition: A news release is a brief, informational summary of an upcoming event or an announcement with statewide appeal.
Goals: to invite people to register or participate, to encourage a newspaper to write a story, to get information into the calendar section of a newspaper, or to share news of an award or filling of a significant position.
Timeline: sent out 3 to 4 weeks before an event or a registration deadline, or when an announcement needs to be made.
Special requirements: recent staff portrait for awards, events open to the public and space available.
Examples: Extension Service hires new beef specialist; MSU professor awarded national teaching honor; School groups invited to CVM open house.

Media Advisory

Definition: A media advisory is an invitation for print and TV media to come to your event.
Goal: to get local news coverage conducted by the outlets’ own staff.
Timeline: sent out 3 to 4 days before an event.
Special requirements: best times for media to be at event, a person at the event who is prepared to be on TV or speak to a reporter, an understanding that there is no guarantee the media will attend.
Examples: 4-H Legislative Day at the Capitol, Crosby Arboretum lecture, 4-H robotics kick-off.

Photo and Cutline

Definition:

A photo and cutline are a picture and brief description of an event or award.

Goal: to quickly promote an event or award (takes up less space in a newspaper than a story so it may get more use than a feature).
Timeline: for Associated Press, must be sent out within 24 hours of event; for general news, ideally within a week.
Special requirements: must have signed permission for any minors pictured, must have names of people pictured, electronic file must be high resolution (300 dpi or greater; phone cameras do not work well); OAC photographers may be requested but must be scheduled in advance.
Examples: fashion students win awards, leadership volunteers.

Fill-in-the Blank Cutline or News Release

Definition:

A fill-in-the-blank cutline is a template given to attendees of an event with a group photo they can submit to their local papers. A fill-in-the-blank news release is a news release template given to attendees they can submit to their local papers.

Goal: to provide a standard cutline in newspaper style to encourage local media to print photo of or report about someone’s participation in an event.
Timeline: should be prepared 1 to 2 weeks before the event so it can be shared with participants at the event.
Special requirements: may require slight changes in wording from one user to another.
Examples: 4-H legislative day, 4-H Congress, county supervisors training.

Feature Story

Definition:

A feature story is a traditional news article based on interviews with DAFVM sources; it is usually 500-750 words plus photos.

Goal: to promote the programs, individuals, research, and accomplishments of MSU’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine.
Timeline: depends on the type of story, but they are best when sent as close to the event as possible.
Special requirements: two sources, one of whom must be affiliated with or employed by DAFVM (can be a student, graduate student, administrator, faculty or staff); topic should be newsworthy, timely and relevant to the average Mississippian.
Examples: Land-grant universities study wells, water; Warm winter has bees buzzing early; Updated plant maps show state is warmer; Sale of Champions sets new record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before You Submit the Request…

I’ve read this information, but I’m still not sure which option I need. Where can I get more information?

Call the media relations manager. You can dial (662) 325-2262 to reach the Office of Agricultural Communications (Ag Comm) and ask to speak to the media relations manager.

I know what I want! To whom should I send my request?

Talk to the media relations manager. You can dial (662) 325-2262 to reach the Office of Agricultural Communications and get connected to the media relations manager.

What will I need to make my request?

You’ll need to give advance notice of events you need Ag Comm to cover, especially if travel is involved. You’ll also need to be able to describe the story idea and explain its news relevance.

What about photos?

You can ask to have an Ag Comm photographer cover your event. If you request a photographer, please give as much notice as possible, especially if travel is involved.

If our photographers can’t make it, you will need high-quality photos to accompany your project. A good picture increases the odds that a paper will pick up your story. Photos must be 300 dpi or higher to be used in print. Some Smartphones take photos that are 300 dpi or higher, but many do not.

While the Story Is Being Written…

I’d like to check on the status of my story. What should I do?

If you have already heard from a media relations writer, call or email him or her. If you haven’t heard from one or cannot remember his or her name, ask for the media relations manager at (662) 325-2262.

Will I see the story before it’s sent out to newspapers?

Yes. We always send stories to our sources for approval before we send them to papers. You’ll have a chance to review your quotes and check the facts included in the story. One of the best ways for you to help the process flow smoothly is to read and edit the project as soon as you can. We can’t move forward until you approve it. Tip: If you don’t want readers or media personnel to call your personal office phone number, make sure the main office phone number is listed on the copy of the story sent to you for approval.

Why are your capitalization and grammar rules different from the ones I’m used to?

We use Associated Press style so newspapers can pick up our work as-is. AP style may be different from some of the style rules your English teacher taught you.

When will my story go out to the media?

News releases and features go out as soon as they’re ready. Media advisories go out 3 to 4 days before the event.

After the Story Is Released…

Will I need to do anything after the story is released?

It’s possible. The media or the general public may call you for more information when your story goes out, especially if you are listed as the contact.

Who will print my story?

News releases and feature stories are posted on extension.msstate.edu. Most stories are promoted on the Extension Service’s social media platforms.

All feature stories are sent to the Clarion Ledger, the Associated Press, and statewide media outlets. All other products are sent to local or statewide news outlets, the Clarion Ledger, the Associated Press, or some combination of these as determined by the media relations team. The only exceptions are fill-in-the-blank news releases and fill-in-the-blank cutlines, which are provided to county agents or event participants to share with local media.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you ahead of time who will respond to our stories. The media outlet editors decide whether they want to run the product as-is, assign one of their writers to cover the topic, or not include it at all.

How can I find out where my stories were printed?

You can view clippings online at http://msucares. com/newsclips/. Clippings are usually posted about one month after the story’s release, and we won’t be able to tell you where it ran until they are posted. We do not currently track websites that pick up the story.

How can my group help promote my story?

Individual colleges and centers may link stories to their websites and social media sites. If you have a good relationship with your local paper, you can call your contact to make sure the paper knows the story is available for use. If there are publications specific to your industry that might be interested in the story, tell the media relations manager or the media relations writer you worked with.


Copyright 2014 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

By Keri Collins Lewis, Media Relations Manager, Agricultural Communications.

Publication 2739
Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director
(POD-12-14)

Department: Agricultural Communications

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