Customizing a Template
Congratulations! Your local health department or community-based program may have just received a national award or grant. Assuming you'll want to share the good news of your achievement, the organization awarding the recognition may provide a template press release to help you announce the award to the local media, community partners, and the public.
Press release templates typically contain a detailed description of the program, information about the national organization making the award, and include several areas to insert specific details about the health department and the local program. Once you have filled in the program details and inserted a quote from the health officer or program director, you will have a complete press release that is ready to go to local reporters.
To get the recognition your local health department or program deserves, please take the following actions:
Identify LHD Communications Staff
If you are unsure who is responsible for communications and media relation activities in your local health department, talk with your boss. Once you identify who is responsible, initiate a conversation with that person about announcing the award or grant to the local media. He or she should have access to a list of relevant reporters and the means to distribute a press release directly. If so, all you may have to do is email the completed release to that person and they will distribute it appropriately. Follow up to make sure they have done so.
No LHD Communications Staff? Do It Yourself
If no one in your agency is directly responsible for media relations, it is something that you or a colleague can easily handle. Issuing a press release is as simple as creating a mailing list of reporters—preferably email addresses—and sending it to them.
Create a Media List
Use the Internet to identify reporters who cover topics like public health, prevention and wellness at your local daily or weekly newspaper, as well as the primary radio and TV stations in your community. If you are not able to find an email address for a health producer at a radio or TV station, make a quick phone call to their news desk. You may already know who many of these reporters are because they have covered your program or issue area in the past.
Send Out the Finished Release
Once you have compiled a list of reporters and their contact information, send out the press release. Be sure to include your own contact information on the release in case a reporter wants to follow up for a story. Try to issue the release on the same day or at least within 1–2 days of when the award, grant, or program will be announced nationally. Timeliness is very important in the news business.
After you've sent the release, feel free to follow up with reporters by email or phone to ensure they received the release, and to ask if they plan to run it or if they have any questions. Keep copies of any news clips that run as a result. You can often locate these items on the media outlet's website. News clips are very helpful to have as background information when explaining your program to stakeholders.
Share with Partners
You may also want to send the press release to key community stakeholders, including policy makers, program partners, relevant care providers, and other government agencies. Regular communication and reporting progress to partners, even in the absence of a crisis or change in direction, lays the foundation for calling on those relationships for support and assistance at key moments.