Communication Department

Getting Your Story Out

Good news is worth sharing. When your church has a successful outreach event, when you refurbish your school, or when a group goes on a mission project to Mexico or India or the Philippines, where should you publish the story? When your young people band together to perform community services such as erasing graffiti in town or planting trees in a nearby park or ministering to the homeless, how can you share this story?

You have several options:

1. Your own newsletter-or your church's Web page. The first place to use these stories is in your own church newsletter-and/or on your church's Web page. Every time you write a report about a project and its outcome, you help document your church's history. Your members and friends have the benefit of the facts, and, if possible, some photos. These reports give your congregation a realization that God is at work among you.

2. Your local paper. Your news may interest your local paper, particularly when it shows how your church is making a positive contribution to your community. Look carefully at your local paper-- 
what kinds of stories are they publishing? If possible, call the editor or main writer of the religion page or the one who often writes local features. Briefly try out your story on her or him. Find out if they'd like you to send a fact sheet and photos, or if they would prefer to write the story themselves.

3. The Pacific Union Recorder. Your story may have potential to interest people outside the Southeastern California Conference. To find out, contact the communication department. A good way to check with us is to send an e-mail that describes your story in a nutshell. In a sentence or two tell us why this is an exciting story for your church. Give us the main facts-- who, when, where, what, how many, how important?

In your message, tell us what phone numbers to use to call you back during the daytime. Our phone number is (951) 509-2258. You can also reach us by e-mail. Send your message to Enno Müller at this address: enno.mueller@seccsda.org

Because Southeastern California is an exceptionally large conference with 121 churches and several companies, we are unable to use all the story ideas that come to us-- even when all of them are good! Over the course of a year, we select stories from different counties, different ethnic groups, different age groups, and that describe a variety of projects or issues.

4. Conference Priorities. Six times a year, a short newsletter especially for members of the Southeastern California Conference is published as an insert to the Pacific Union Recorder. In each issue we normally publish one or two short news items from a local church or school. Interesting photos are very helpful!

For consideration in this publication, follow the steps outlined above for the general articles used in the Recorder. In other words, send us your story in a nutshell-- by fax, by letter, or by e-mail. Tell us what kind of photos you have. If your story has possibilities for us, we will call you back. This gives us a chance to ask for more information so your story will be as interesting as possible to other readers.

Specific Tips
When writing news for publication, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Select interesting news. What is truly new? unusual? exciting? unique?
  2. Don't wait. Be timely. Stories that are several weeks or months old are less likely to be chosen than something that has happened recently.
  3. Get the facts. Be sure to cover the "Five W's." Tell who, when, what, where, why. It may also be helpful to tell how much, how many, and how often.
  4. "Sell" your story. Why is it important? In the first sentence or two emphasize something that will make readers want to find out more.
  5. Call or e-mail in advance. Try out your story idea on us; we'll be glad to provide feedback.
  6. Get good photos. Good photos enhance a good story. Excellent photos may make up for a mediocre story. Either send glossy prints by mail or high resolution digital photos (150 KB is usable, 1 MB or larger is best) by e-mail. Include identification and caption information.
  7. Look for a story that could motivate others. What good ideas has your congregation tried-- in ministry, outreach, and education-- that could be adapted by others? What challenges did you face? What did you learn? What was the outcome?

 

Kit Watts, Fomrer Assistant to the President for Communication