The Masonic Villages Public Relations Department uses a “news clipping service” to track newspaper articles about a variety of Masonic subjects across the Commonwealth, and they feed the Masonic Youth Group articles to us. Displayed in the picture are just a few of the articles that have recently been seen in Pennsylvania newspapers. The sources of these range from small-town local weekly papers to larger dailies, and a few of the merchant/shopper publications. They reach thousands of people, and often just a photo and a 3 line caption is enough to get a message across. These articles WILL get published almost every time they are submitted IF they are:
1) of general interest to the public
2) brief, or at least, concisely written
3) constructed with proper grammar and punctuation, and
Media editors seem to prefer announcements of upcoming events. Old news, unless it happened in the previous week, is just not timely, and is seldom published. Photos of 2 or 3 people are preferred to large group photos, because when printed, they want the faces to be recognizable. Stage a photo to illustrate an upcoming event. A high resolution photo of 3 or 4 young people standing around a pot on a stove, holding the ingredients to the spaghetti dinner, for example, is fun, and tells the story visually. All that is left is to state the date, time, place and cost. Action shots, if clear, are preferrable to “grip and grin” presentations and line-ups of people posing for a group shot. For example, instead of trying to show the entire corps of officers lined up on the steps in the Lodge room, stage a photo of the presiding officer receiving the gavel of authority, or reading his/her inaugural address, or (if permitted by the organization) taking the obligation at the altar, or being invested with the jewel of office.
Yes, it takes a small effort to get an article in the local newspapers. Some advanced planning will make your articles better, and gives them a better chance of getting used. It doesn’t hurt to have a regular contact at the paper. If you submit something, see how it was edited or changed to meet the editor’s needs. If something doesn’t get used, call and ask for advice on how to provide materials that are better suited for the paper’s purpose. They will be glad to help you help them. You can normally submit everything electronically (often preferred by the editors) and once you understand their schedule, you can become very good at providing the editors what they want and need for their local audience.
The clipping service doesn’t catch everything that gets published, and we aren’t permitted to reproduce what they share with us, but if you clip an article and send it to us, or scan it and email it, we will share it, giving proper credit to the publisher, of course, so we can all see what kind of news is deemed worthy of publication.