There are more channels and opportunities to share information about your organization than ever before - some are just an app away; but it's important to not forget all the local and community collaborators ready and waiting to help you tell the story of all you (or are ready to do).
Newspapers, radio stations, and local television studios are all still enormously effective ways of connecting with the UVM and Burlington community. Consider providing a press release or advanced tip to local media outlets to see if they can help provide coverage of your awesome accomplishments and/or events.
UVM Media Organizations
- Headwaters - UVM’s undergraduate environmental publication which publishes informed commentaries on local, regional, and global environmental issues, as well as art once a semester in our print magazine and throughout the year online.
- The Cynic - UVM's student-run newspaper. Published in print (Tuesdays from September through May, excluding school breaks and exam periods) and online.
- The Gist - a student-run literary and visual arts journal that publishes work which stimulates and supports a creative community on campus.
- The Watertower - a student-run alternative and satirical news mag, shedding light (and humor) on all aspects of UVM.
- University Communications - the official department that oversees UVM media relations, writes stories about university (and student, staff, and faculty) accomplishments, and oversees all communication efforts at the institution.
- UVMtv - a student run on-campus TV network that produces, writes, and shoots online shows from start to finish. Also a repository of videographers who can film video projects.
- WRUV - a non-profit, non-commercial, student-run and community-led radio station right on campus.
- Seven Days - am alternative weekly newspaper that is widely distributed every Wednesday in Burlington (and throughout Vermont). Wildly popular with Burlington residents.
- Burlington Free Press - a digital and print community news organization based in Burlington, Vermont, and owned a national newspaper chain.
- WCAX (Channel 3) - the local CBS-affiliate broadcasting station which services the entire state of Vermont (and parts of New York and Canada). Studio films out of Burlington.
- WPTZ (Channel 10) - the local NBC-affiliate broadcasting station which services Plattsburgh and Vermont. Studio films out of Burlington and Plattsburgh, NY.
- Vermont Public Radio (VPR) - Vermont's public radio branch of National Public Radio. Feature programming from NPR along with locally produced programs and news updates.
Writing a press release is not too different from writing a paper or any other document - but certain rules and consideration must be made to ensure you are including all the information needed thoroughly explain whatever it is you're trying to highlight - all in a way that will not negatively affect the reader's interpretation.
Before you start writing a Press Release you must determine the subject of your story. It can be about an event that affects your organization, a recent award your received, or a member who is doing (or did) something great. Whatever you choose to be your story, remember to cover the basics: the who, what, where, when, why and how of your subject.
Don't forget - a press release is not an advertisement: it's flattering news about your organization masquerading as news. As such, the primary purpose of your press release should be to deliver a newsworthy story about your company to the reader. As news, the release should focus on the facts and/or a problem your group - or a member of it - has solved.
Writing a Press Release
- Open with a strong headline to grab the reader's attention. The headline and your opening paragraph should tell a gripping story. This is essential to keeping the reader's interest as they read through the detail section of the release that follows. If they're bored by the start - they won't keep reading. Simple as that!
- Stick to the facts. Make it interesting, but avoid embellishments. When giving the details of your press release, be sure to illustrate the story to your reader by using real-life examples that they can relate to and/or clearly visualize.
- Write to your audience. Consider where you'll be sending your press release and the kind of tone that outlet will be looking for. For instance - if you're writing for The Cynic, you'll want to make your release relevant to the UVM community, especially students. If you're writing for The Burlington Free-Press, make the issues relevant to Burlington residents. Don't forget to consider current events, including what's going on with social issues, and sculpt your press release accordingly.
- Be concise and grammatically correct. Avoid adding extra fluff words that distract from the true meaning of your press release. Don't include clichés and jargon that may not be understood by the general reader. For example, write "fraternity member," not "brother." Make sure that you have permission to use any quotes or inside information. This will prevent there being any conflicts that may result in your press release being pulled. Always (always!) double-check your release for punctuation and grammatical errors before sending it out into the world.
Still need some direction? Check out this example press release (pdf). Everything you see there - headline, contact information and all - should be in your press release, too.
News Release Format
- Include "News Release" typed in big, bold letters (usually 24-point type)
- If to be released now, Include "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE".
- Include a composition date (aka - the date you wrote the release)
- Include "FOR MORE INFORMATION" data - contact person, person's title, phone number, e-mail address, etc
- Provide two inches between the headings and the headline
- Make sure your headline in newspaper style and is in a boldface font
- First word and names should be capitalized; all other words should be lowercase
- Text (body) of your news release should be double spaced
- At end of your release include the page number (ie -30- or ###)
- If your release is more than two pages, include -more- or -over- at the bottom of the first page and include a condensed version of release headline (and the page number) in the upper-right corner of the second page
Merit Pages + Stories
This UVM service is used to celebrate student accomplishments and list them on official online profiles for every student. When students earn achievements like making the dean's list, winning academic awards, participating in internships, and more, press releases are written and posted to Merit which shares the story with UVM students and their families - as well as a number of their hometown media outlets and local politicians. Visit the UVM Merit Page to see recent achievements, or learn more about how Merit is used at UVM.
If your organization (or student in your organization) has a recent accomplishment you think is worth celebrating, contact Cody Silfies with a press release of the accomplishment (or as much information as possible) and they can discuss writing a Merit story for you.