A News Media Guide You Can Use
by Angel Zuniga Martinez for the Alamo Area BSA
Scouting needs families to read engaging stories or see action pictures and videos about all of the great things Scouts and Scout units are doing, whether it’s something fun or something that’s helping the community. The media does like positive stories, but because many TV, radio and newspaper newsrooms are short- staffed, they tend to grab the most available news and events to fill time or space.
If we can provide easily accessible, positive stories – the press should grab them. Our Scouts deserve public recognition for the good deeds they do.
Our volunteers and parent leadership know our Scout units better than anybody – so that means we need you to actively contribute positive news stories, photos, and good Scout media events to community newspapers, church bulletins, homeowners’ association newsletters, and District or unit webpages. (Note: your District Executive and District webmaster will be your first point of contact for story submissions to your District page.)
We especially want to receive GREAT Scouting stories for consideration to publish within our council website, Unified Focus on Youth E-News, and social media channels.
Thank you for your support of Scouting and enhanced Scouting communications.
• No matter what form it takes – newspaper, television, radio, magazine – the media is a business. Without ad sales and subscribers, online news portals, television news departments and print journalism outlets couldn’t survive .
• Folks who work in the media are always working against the clock so make things as easy as possible for these folks when you submit a story – that story is much more likely to get online, into the paper or on the newscast .
What “Makes” News?
• Stories that happen before a newspaper goes to press or a newscast goes on the air
If it’s old, it’s generally not “news” – no matter how good the story.
• Really compelling and dramatic stories that have already happened, but that no one else has already published or aired
Sometimes you can get away with a story that’s “old”, but it had better be pretty amazing stuff… I’m talking “Young Scout pulling his sister from a burning house” amazing. Even then, that might not be enough – it all depends on what the paper has already lined up for the current issue, or whether you have amazing pictures you can give TV .
• Stories that involve someone from the publication’s primary market
If you’re pitching a story to the North Central News about a Scout that has earned every merit badge – make sure you’re very clear that the Scout is a member of Troop 11, sponsored by the North Central Methodist Church.
• Stories which are unique or different
A Cub Scout that wins his pack’s Pinewood Derby is certainly worthy of recognition… but that recognition might only come in the form of a picture and caption, not a full-fledged five paragraph article . A Cub Scout that wins his pack’s Pinewood Derby with the car that his now-deployed Army Captain father helped him build – now that’s different.
• Stories that you think your neighbors might want to read
A Reporter is Calling Me, and it’s Bad News
This would be because there is a report about something bad that is happening or has happened to a Scout or Scouting in general .
- First: If this story involves your family, you have every right to dictate what information you do or do not want to release to the press . The Alamo Area Council will respect your wishes . However, we need you to contact the Scout Executive or Council PR Director right away to let us know you have been contacted by the media .
- Second: If this story involves your unit, we want you to do the following:
1. DO NOT GRANT AN INTERVIEW
2 . Write down:
➢ caller’s name
➢ phone number
➢ which station/publication for whom he or she works
➢ short description of the story about which he/she is asking
3 . IF IN-PERSON, ASK FOR THEIR BUSINESS CARD
4 . Tell the caller a spokesperson will contact them in a few minutes
5 . Contact Scout Executive or PR Director with the above information
6 . If you can’t reach the Scout Executive, contact the Communications Executive or the Director of Marketing/Public Relations with the above information
Scout Executive: Michael de los Santos
Office: 210-341-8611 Ext119
Communications / Marketing Director: Angel Martinez
Office: 210-341-8611 Ext160 or Cell: 210-394-9915
➢ Please remember: “No Comment” is, in fact, a comment . It tells a reporter you (or we) have something to hide . It’s OK to instead say, “I can’t talk with you right now, but give me your name and number and I will have someone call you right back” .
Also please remember: Parents and/or Scout volunteer leaders are not expected to deal with the media during moments of crisis . Please contact the Scout Executive so that we may provide you the support you deserve .
- News operations in “breaking news” mode will look for any bit of information to give to reporters or anchors, and will be persistent in asking if anyone on the scene can talk to them .
➢ Again, your response can be: “I can’t talk with you right now, but give me your name and number and I will have someone call you right back” .
- Do not share information about the crisis with others – even other Scout leaders – if they’re not directly involved in the crisis .➢ You should tell a parent at the scene if their child is hurt, but do it after you have them on property and away from a crowd .
➢ A reporter on the scene will look to anyone to give them an interview, including other adults, leaders, and the clerk at the convenience store across the road from camp. If you give information to anyone other than those directly involved in the crisis, you will hear it or read it somewhere later.
Hope this helps! Please remember our primary purpose is service to our Scouting youth!