Long ago and far away, I was a teacher. For 10 years, actually. I got an undergrad and masters in special education, working primarily with infants and toddlers. A few years of making less than the secretary in the program in which I was employed dissuaded me from further pursuit of that career.
I’ll be back at it again, for one day, on March 23 at the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen, when I teach a workshop on equine media relations. Most specifically, the workshop is on how to get media attention for your track, fair meet, your farm, your horse-related organization.
I’ve worked in harness racing publicity much longer than I was a teacher, but I can still write a lesson plan. I think I’ve been able to put together a curriculum that will work even if you’re not much for writing and you don’t have a computer. There is something everyone can do to advance the cause and I hope all my students will leave at the end of that day with some strategies that will help.
I’m covering some of the basics, like developing a media list, finding story ideas, writing a release, dealing with a crisis, how to use photo, video and social media.
Then there are the 10 or so commandments of being a good publicist, like Thou Shalt Send Releases In The Body of the Email, Not In Attached Files. Think about who’s getting your releases. Most editors get dozens, if not hundreds of stories a day. If they have to open a file with every release, you’ve just piled on their already heavy workload and cut the odds they will even read what you send. You have to make it easy for an editor to read and review your releases. You also have to make it safe. Viruses dwell in attached files and yours may be an unwelcome visitor.
No one is going to escape heaven for this, but they might irritate a lot of people by forgetting Thou Shalt Use Blind Copy for All Addressees. You are effectively telling an editor they have to scroll through a half a page of more of email addresses before they get to your news. Wasting an editor’s time is not a good idea. You’re also telling them you sent half the world this news; something they might be able to guess, but don’t stick it in their face.
The worst possible outcome of breaking this commandment, and I’ve seen it happen, is that you ignite and enable public and civil war. Say you’re sending out news that Joe Smith is going in the Happy Valley Hall of Fame. One of the folks on your list thinks Joe’s a jerk. Here’s his big chance – all he has to do is hit “reply all” and he can tell everyone you just sent that release to, including mainstream media folks very important to your efforts, that he bet Joe once at 1-5 and got stiffed. A match has just been tossed in a can of gasoline - and you did it.
Ok, there are two good lessons and the answer to the trivia question, “What did Ellen Harvey used to do in her life before racing?” Please, join me, if you can for the Workshop in Goshen on March 23. The rest of the Commandments will be sent down from the mountain. Class dismissed.
|Hoof Beats Magazine Blog|
|The forum of Hoof Beats bloggers, featuring some of the best writers in harness racing: New York writer Tim Bojarski, handicapper Frank Cotolo, Tom LaMarra, Harness Racing Communications’ Ellen Harvey and Ken Weingartner, and Hoof Beats’ T.J. Burkett.|
|Subscribe to Hoof Beats Magazine|
|To comment on this blog send an e-mail to email@example.com|