Media guidelines for #ALW2021
We’ve put together a useful guide to help adult and community education organisations to spread the word about Adult Learners Week 2021.
The guidelines on this page as well as the resources – social media shareables and tiles, template press release, media backgrounder and event list all on the Tips and Tools page — will help you to engage with your local media and make the most of social media opportunities during Adult Learners Week.
This page contains information on
- Publicising your plans for Adult Learners Week
- Developing story angles that will appeal to your local media
- How to approach your local media
- Information on the Adult Learners Week national media campaign
- Tips and advice for making the most of social media during Adult Learners Week
Publicising your plans for Adult Learners Week
Effective publicity is vital in ensuring that your event is a success, so try to think as broadly as possible about where and how you can publicise it. Tell everyone you know and use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the word and include the hashtags #ALW2021 and #ChangeYourStory.
The easiest and most immediate way to draw attention to your event is to list it on the Adult Learners Week event page. This enables people to discover what is going on during Adult Learners Week in their own neighbourhood, paints a picture of the range of adult learning activities taking place throughout Australia and allows us to promote your event across social media.
Don’t forget to add your event by August 6 to be in with the chance to win an early bird prize. And remember all events listed go into the final judging for one of five $1,000 best event prizes. We are looking for learning events that capture the spirit and theme of Adult Learners Week and are inclusive, engaging and fun.
Other ways to spread the word
List your #ALW2021 events and activities in the “what’s on” section of your local newspaper and in your local council’s publications and website.
You can also put up information on noticeboards in community centres, libraries, shops, churches, doctors’ surgeries, restaurants and your workplace. Encourage everyone involved in organising the event to promote it through their own personal and professional networks, including any newsletters or meetings that they may be involved with. Make sure you take advantage of the #ALW2021 posters and other promotional material.
Consider inviting VIPs to your event, such as government officials, well-known community figures or celebrities. And mention them in any publicity about the event as a way to encourage others to attend.
Developing story angles that will appeal to your local media
Adult Learners Week is the perfect time to boost the profile of your organisation and what you offer. Below are some tips on how to get the media attention during Adult Learners Week and highlight the power of adult education to change lives.
If you want media coverage you have to find a way to grab a journalist’s attention – you need to convince them that you have something newsworthy to offer. If you have an enormous event that will bring in hundreds of people from the area, then you immediately have something they will want to cover. However, even if your event is small there are ways to make it interesting.
What story to tell
Adult Learners Week presents you with a reason to get in touch with your local newspaper or radio station to talk about the importance of adult education in your community. And it gives the media a reason to listen to you.
What story would you like to tell during Adult Learners Week? Think about your centre, your students, the courses you offer and the impact that your centre and your students, whether past or present, have had on your local community.
You could tell a story about an event or activity that you will be running that highlights the work your organisation does. Or you could focus instead on the impact of your organisation on the lives of individual learners.
You should be looking to tell a story to your local media that brings adult learning to life and relates directly to your organisation and its impact on people in your local community.
There are two basic approaches to developing your story — a learner or an event angle.
How to write a learner story
#ChangeYourStory is the theme of Adult Learners Week this year. This provides you with an overall ‘hook’ to hang your story off.
Think about how your centre can demonstrate ways in which it has helped empower learners to change their lives.
You are looking to tell a genuine adult learning story. Who stands out as someone who has changed their life through adult learning? Is there someone who has a particularly interesting story? Are there stories that would make you laugh? Some that make you stand back in amazement? Some that might even make you cry? This will be what your local media is looking for. Remember, the story should be all about how learning has changed their life, and the lives of those around them. And the person you’ve identified needs to be open, chatty and comfortable telling their story. The media love profiling colourful characters, and this person can be the ‘local face’ of Adult Learners Week.
You could nominate a local learner for one of the #ALW2021 scholarships which will be awarded to outstanding adult learners to enable them to continue learning either by taking a new learning pathway or continue an existing one.
The next step is to prepare a brief 100 to 150 word summary of the learner’s story. Check that your story subject is happy with the summary. This forms part of the information that you will approach the local media with. Tell the story about what the person was like when you first met them, compared to where are they now. Describe how the person’s life has changed since they started attending your centre.
How to write an event story
The second approach is to promote an event you’re running during Adult Learners Week.
One of the great things about Adult Learners Week is that any learning activity you have going on from 1 to 8 September can be considered an Adult Learners Week activity. If you have courses or workshops running that week think about how you can use them to draw more people into your centre and what might attract local media such as inviting a local councillor, your mayor or an expert speaker to take part.
Potential events include:
• A celebration of an anniversary or milestone for your organisation
• An open evening or open day, perhaps with an informed speaker or local celebrity /councillor
• Announcing or launching new courses or a new prospectus
• An event with learners telling their story, such as an open evening
For more ideas check out our ideas and planning page.
Which media to target
Once you’ve decided on your story angle you need to decide which media you’d like to approach. Local media can be divided into print (newspapers and magazines), television and radio. Newspapers and local radio are the easiest to get coverage in. For TV, you need something that is visually very strong and/or a charismatic speaker who is comfortable in front of the camera. Whichever media you select, you will need to identify a spokesperson who can talk to the media in detail about your event, organisation and broader issues around adult education, even if your story is a profile of a successful adult learner.
Write a media release
The main tool used to approach media is the media release: a one page document providing the essential information that you wish to convey. Unfortunately, most releases end up going straight into the bin because they haven’t been addressed to the right person or because they have failed to grab the attention of the reader in the first few paragraphs, so it’s important to make sure that you get your media release right.
Do the work for them. Journalists are busy, so the more information you can provide them with, the better. Pitch your event or learner story as part of a national celebration and include the ALW media backgrounder which provides detailed information on Adult Learners Week and this year’s theme. Have contact details and learner stories at the ready, and make sure you know who is happy to talk to the media and who isn’t.
Elements of a media release
Media releases should be short and snappy, use simple language, and be limited to one page only. Here’s a link to a media release template you can use. You can adapt the media release to suit either an Adult Learners Week event or a learner’s story approach. They should be broken up in the following way:
- Dateline: The date should be included at the top of the release.
- Headline: The headline must summarise the key points you wish to convey. It must also be interesting enough to catch the attention of your target audience. Aiming for a complete but short sentence is best. Try imagining the headline you’d expect to see in your local paper.
- Lead/Opening Paragraph: The lead is the most important part of the media release and needs to contain the basic information concerning Who? What? Where? When? Why?
- Body: This section is the place to put more info about your event and Adult Learners Week. Why are you holding an event? Why do you think adult education is important to your community? How does it fit in with Adult Learners Week more broadly? Start with what’s most important, using short sentences and short paragraphs. Include direct and conclusive quotes to illustrate key points, and include the name and title or position in the organisation of the person quoted. You may spell out the name of the organisation initially, followed by an abbreviation afterwards.
- End: The end paragraph summarises facts and background information.
- Contacts: Always end your media release with the name and contact details of the person the journalist should contact for more information and interviews. It is also worth detailing any other relevant information which may be of interest to the journalist. For instance, the names and a short descriptive sentence about other people who are available for interview, photos you might be able to provide or speakers who you think would work particularly well on TV or radio. If you think your event will make a good photograph, include a note to picture editors describing when, where and what photos can be taken.
Getting in touch with media
Don’t forget, during Adult Learners Week you have a reason to call them; they have a reason to listen to you. If you don’t know who you need to talk to in the media do some research by either talking to friends or contacts or using the following resources to help you:
How to approach your local media
Timing is important
So you should now have a story to tell and your media contact details. You are ready to go. But make sure you know the deadlines for the different media. How much warning do they need? When do you need to send your release? If you send it too early it may be ignored, but if you send it too late then you’ll miss your chance. The norm is seven to ten days before the event, but some media may have longer lead times.
With local print media you should be contacting them a week or two out from the date of your event. Regional newspaper deadlines tend to be on a Friday, with publication the following Tuesday. For radio you should contact a week out from your event. You might not hear anything for a day or two from local radio, but then get a call asking to talk to a spokesperson later that day, so be prepared!
Make a call
Contacting your local media is simply a case of picking up the phone. Call the media outlet and ask who is the correct person to talk to about a local story to do with your centre and Adult Learners Week. It might be the editor, the newsroom, or a radio producer or presenter.
When you are talking to the correct person, simply tell them that you have a story to tell, let the journalist or reporter know that Adult Learners Week is coming up, that you have prepared a media release, and give them a bit of the story background. Make sure you ask for an email address so you can send the media release via email.
If the journalist is not interested, they will say so. Don’t be disheartened. There can be many reasons why journalists don’t run stories. If you have followed the simple steps above, you will have a story that will appeal to someone. Simply try the next person on your list.
Don’t worry about taking or sending photographs initially. Your local newspaper will normally send a photographer along to take pictures of either a case study subject or your event. If they can’t, they might ask that some be provided. Generally, photographs taken with a smart phone or small digital camera will do.
Send the media release
When contacting and sending this to your local media you could include the story summary in a covering email. You can also send them the ALW media backgrounder. You might also have some further information you can provide. Have you had a significant increase in course enquiries or students year on year? Have there been changes at your centre that have improved the learning experience for your students?
Follow-up your media release with a phone call. A day or two after you’ve sent your press release, follow it up with a phone call to whomever you addressed it to. Always make sure that they have time to take your call first, and offer to call back at a more convenient time if necessary. Be relaxed and friendly and draw their attention to the release if they haven’t opened it yet.
At the event
If a journalist comes to your event, make sure that somebody is assigned to look after them and help them speak to the right people. If a photographer is coming, check beforehand who is happy to have their photo taken and who is not. All participants should be briefed about the arrival of journalists and what that will mean. If your learners have agreed to talk to journalists about their experiences, ensure that they are properly briefed and know what to expect and what is involved.
When a radio or TV journalist contacts you and wants to do an interview, find out as much as possible about what they want beforehand. Ask if the interview will be live or pre-recorded. Live interviews are broadcast as you do them, therefore you have to get them right the first time as they cannot be edited like pre-recorded interviews. Before the interview think about the message that you want to convey and rehearse what you want to say. Have about three or four key points that you aim to get across. If you are doing a radio interview you can write these on a card and have this with you.
Information on the Adult Learners Week national media campaign
Adult Learning Australia is undertaking three separate initiatives during Adult Learners Week:
- A national audio news release will be broadcast on 2nd September on commercial, local and community radio stations nationally within scheduled news bulletins, and over the course of the week.
- A national press release distributed to targeted at education commentators and journalists and hosted online
- Launch event – 1 September (online).
Tips and advice for making the most of social media during Adult Learners Week
Getting online and social
Adult Learning Australia will be active on social media in the lead up to and during Adult Learners Week. To see what we are sharing and saying follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. You can search for the hashtags #ALW2021 #ChangeYourStory to see what other organisations are doing and what stories they are telling about how learning changes lives.
When posting news of your own Adult Learners Week stories and photos from events use at least one of the hashtags above. This will enable Adult Learning Australia to track activity in support of Adult Learners Week and also ensure that we see your posts and have the opportunity to share them to a whole new audience.