As a news story in the works for several weeks, the collaboration between my colleague Will Dube and me could serve as a model for future stories developed by University News.
“Why?” you might ask, “and why cover this story in the first place?”
I was asked the second question—and I’ll share my response a bit later. First, here’s some background on this story’s development and how it could serve as a model:
Weeks prior to release, I started the process by reviewing my findings (for the umpteenth time, even though I know them nearly by heart) and jotting down key points that I might want included in the news release. I then wrote a very, very rough first draft.
Collaborating with Will, that first draft was “refined” (a kind way of saying the final version barely resembles the first draft). Together, we developed a much better news release than either of us could have written on our own. (As our colleague Kathy Lindsley likes to say, “Everyone needs an editor”—and that goes for me, too!)
We decided to incorporate a “fact sheet” into the news package in order to include key points that didn’t make it into the news release (and to provide readers with an overview of findings and related background information). Considering the smallest of details, we agreed to insert “Click for Study Highlights” and “Return to top” links within the document (because of its length) and to make the full study available as a PDF file.
Around the same time, I paid a visit to RIT news photographer Sue Weisler to have a new portrait taken. (Almost every news story goes better with a photo. Because it had been a few years, I was due for an updated one anyway—but you’d be amazed at how often this simple task is overlooked.)
It also occurred to me that a discussion of study findings might be appropriate for a Studio 86 podcast. So, I asked Will if he wouldn’t mind “switching sides” to be the guest host, with me as the guest. (News stories also usually go better with multimedia content.)
Due to the Studio 86 schedule, the podcast was released first, on Feb. 3. This worked out nicely because it ensured a “live” podcast link in the news release (which was entered into the system the prior Sunday—a reason why I missed most of the Super Bowl). The news release went “live” on the RIT Web site on Feb. 4, and links to a customized story and the podcast followed in the News & Events Daily and Dateline: RIT e-newsletters. (Staying up past 3 a.m. one night, I personally transcribed the podcast audio for the transcript.)
The following weekend (Feb. 7–8), I posted links to the news release on Radio-Info.com (a Web site frequented by some respondents to my survey) and Facebook. Plus, I personally e-mailed links for the news release, audio podcast and full study to the editors of select radio trade publications and Web sites and to more than 260 survey respondents who had requested study findings.
A news story was originally slated for the Feb. 26 print edition of News & Events. However, in consultation with Will and Vienna Carvalho-McGrain (N&E managing editor), we decided at the last minute to move it up to the Feb. 12 issue so that it wouldn’t seem like “old news” two weeks later (particularly because links to the story had already appeared in our two e-newsletters).
Finally, Tiger Beat Blog readers were invited to read (and hear) the news in my post last week.
So, in a uniquely coordinated effort, the story appeared within days in these communication vehicles:
Studio 86: The State of Radio (audio podcast with accompanying transcript—Feb. 3)
RIT Study: Many Listeners Unhappy With Local Radio Programming (news release and accompanying “fact sheet” containing study highlights, background information, and photo, podcast and full-study links—Feb. 4)
News & Events Daily (internal and Web e-newsletter—Feb. 5)
Dateline: RIT (external e-newsletter—Feb. 6)
External Web sites (Feb. 7–8)
News & Events (print edition—Feb. 12)
The Tiger Beat Blog (Feb. 13)
Between the two of us, I think Will and I thought of everything! At one point, Will remarked—and I agreed—that more stories should be developed in such a collaborative process.
Story pitching to outside media—arguably the biggest task—began in earnest Feb. 5–6 and continues today. We’ve already seen success in Dallas media (the Dallas-Forth Worth market was one focus of my study). More about those “hits” next time—when I’ll also return to the question: “Why this story?”
Have a great weekend!