Press releases

Press releases are sent by the company, theatre, events /sports club to get their story out there. Some ponts to remember are :

  • do not use on face value
  • can be biased as they have their own agenda, read the release with a critical eye
  • check facts and figures and also names and spelling
  • don’t just use the quotations
  • should be used as a source or starting point
  • look at original reports
  • make the story your own
  • follow up, interview those involved, get in touch with person who wrote the press release
  • find authority figure on the subject
  • is it newsworthy? If it’s purely promotional forget it.
  • ask the Editor how much can be used
  • could you put a local angle on a national press release
  • is there a human element
  • what’s missing?
  • is it balanced, is it true, where did it come from?

Here is an example of a press release for Hull City of Culture 2017 :

PRESS RELEASE

FLYING HIGH:

HULL TO BE TOUCHED BY ANGELS IN SPECTACULAR AERIAL SHOW!

Hull 2017 and the Yorkshire Festival will bring Gratte Ciel’s ‘Place des Anges’ to the city, marking the finale of Yorkshire Festival and the opening of Amy Johnson Festival

An aerial spectacle that has wowed crowds in locations across the globe will be flying into Hull this summer.

‘Place des Anges’ will take place in the skies above the city centre this July. The show  will provide a jaw-dropping contribution to both the finale of Welcome to Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Festival (June 16 – 3 July) and an extraordinary opening to Amy Johnson Festival, which begins in Hull on Friday July 1.

The stunning display on Saturday July 2 will feature aerial performers ‘flying’ across the night sky on invisible zip lines, transforming the area above Hull College in Queens  Gardens into ‘Angels’ Place’.

Thousands of free tickets are available for the show – which has previously been  performed in in Australia, South Africa and London – to witness the angels appear at nightfall, as they gradually emerge in the sky above the college.

The show will culminate in an extraordinary display of feather fireworks, creating an enormous, feather ‘blizzard’ to transform the ground below.

Place des Anges is a free, ticketed event. Those wishing to register interest for the event should visit hull2017.co.uk/placedesanges to be the first to find out how to secure a free ticket when they are released in June.

Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull 2017, said: “I am so excited to be presenting the extraordinary Place des Anges as the finale of the Yorkshire Festival and to open the Amy Johnson Festival. Place des Anges is a breath-taking piece of aerial spectacle that creates  a real sense of magic and wonder. It will appeal to people of all ages, and has to be seen to be believed.

“This event is just one of many in an incredible line-up of cultural events this summer. I’m expecting demand for the free tickets to be extremely high as we prepare to stage the nations’ cultural festival in 2017.”

Yorkshire Festival’s Artistic Director, Matt Burman, said: “We are thrilled to be presenting Place des Anges as part of the epic, bold and game-changing Yorkshire Festival 2016. Expect the unexpected with world-class performances, UK and world premieres and exclusives, and even an attempt to break a world record. The Festival will reach the  whole of our great, beautiful county across 18 days this June and July. Make sure you come and be part of it!”

Place des Anges also marks the beginning of the new Amy Johnson Festival. From July 1  to September 6, the festival will celebrate the life, achievements and legacy of one of Hull’s most famous daughters, through an ambitious international programme of the arts and engineering sciences, appealing to all interests and ages.

Rick Welton, director of Amy Johnson Festival, said: “Place des Anges is a fabulous way to launch the festival. It will be a fantastic curtain-raiser for two months of celebration when, in collaboration with the 2017 team, we’ll be telling the world about the remarkable life of Hull’s aviation heroine.”

-ENDS-

For further information please contact: Laura O’Donnell at Autumn – laura@autumncomms.com / 07800 890324

Images: Caption details

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Place des Anges

Place des Anges is created and performed by French theatre producers Gratte Ciel. It was previously performed in London’s Piccadilly Circus on behalf of the Mayor of London and the London 2012 Festival. It has also appeared in Perth, Australia; Durban, South Africa; Marseilles, France; Barcelona, Spain.

About Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull secured the title of UK City of Culture 2017 in November 2013. Hull is only the second city to hold the title, and the first in England. The vision of the Hull 2017 Culture Company, the delivery organisation of the project, is “to deliver 365 days of transformative culture in 2017 through a range of diverse and high-profile events and projects”. Following on from the Olympics and Paralympics, Commonwealth Games and the Tour de France in Yorkshire, Hull 2017 is the next major event in the nation’s cultural calendar.

The Culture Company is an independent organisation with charitable status, funded both publicly and privately. It has an £18m funding target, with key contributions coming from: Principal Partners

– Arts Council England, BBC, Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Yorkshire Water, KWL, KCOM the University of Hull and Spirit of 2012; Major Partners – Sewell Group, BP, the British Council and Wykeland Group.

Hull 2017’s International Partners are: Aarhus, Denmark, European Capital of Culture 2017; Reykjavik, Iceland; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and Freetown, Sierra Leone (twinned with Hull).

Useful links for background information on Hull, the UK City of Culture bid and the UK City of Culture programme:

  1. hull2017.co.uk
  2. visithullandeastyorkshire.com
  3. https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-vibrant-and-sustainable-arts-and- culture/supporting-pages/uk-city-of-culture-programm

About Yorkshire Festival 2016

  • Yorkshire Festival 2016 runs from June 16 – 3 July with preview events around the Tour de Yorkshire weekend at the end of April
  • Yorkshire Festival is backed by Welcome to Yorkshire with government funding through the Arts Council England as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative
  • Yorkshire Festival will present hundreds of performances all over the county

About Amy Johnson Festival

2016 is the 75th anniversary of the death of Amy Johnson, Hull’s flying heroine. Born in 1903, Amy Johnson CBE was one of the most influential and inspirational women of the twentieth century. She was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia and set a string of other records throughout her career. During the 1920s and 1930s aviation was dominated by the rich and famous and most female pilots were titled women such as Lady Heath, the Duchess of Bedford and Lady Bailey. But Amy was the first woman to gain a ground engineer’s ‘C’ licence and, whilst working a secretary, she took flying lessons. In 1929 she was awarded her pilot’s licence and just a year later set off solo for Australia!

Amy Johnson Festival will mark this anniversary and celebrate Amy’s life, achievements and legacy with an ambitious programme of the arts and engineering sciences appealing to all interests and ages.

The festival begins on July 1 and runs throughout the summer to September 6. Although centred on Hull, the festival will also see activity in Sewerby Hall, Bridlington and at other key locations in Amy’s life.

The aims of Amy Johnson Festival are:

  • To raise awareness of Amy Johnson’s achievements as an aviator, as an engineer and as a woman of her time
  • To provide opportunities for new art to be created, inspired by Amy and the wider festival themes
  • To encourage young women to consider engineering and the sciences as career choices through the presentation of positive role models and creative projects which explore technical, digital or mechanical ideas and applications
  • To introduce new audiences to great art and cultural events
  • To help set the scene for Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Full programme information for the festival will be announced in early May.

News Story, Brendon Smurthwaite

KCOM’s Community Coordinator, Brendon Smurthwaite, visits Hull College.

Brendon Smurthwaite took time out of his busy schedule as Community Coordinator for Kingston Communications, Hull, to speak to Journalist students at Hull College on Monday, 27th February.

Brendon is probably best known for his role as Press Officer for Hull Kingston Rovers Rugby League Club. He started his career as a Trainee Journalist at the Hull Daily Mail, then went on to spend 10 years at Hull City as the club’s Press Officer before joining Hull KR as Media Manager in 2011.

The session commenced with Smurthwaite recalling his early career as a Sports Journalist, working on a magazine in Sheffield. He then began working as Senior Press Officer for Hull City AFC in 2001. This was “the beginning of  the dot-com era” but preceding the creation of a website, he had a leading role in the production of 52 issues of ‘City’ magazine for Hull City fans.

His advice to budding journalists was to get as much work experience as possible. To go out there and knock on doors. He  also stressed the importance of  getting contacts, stating that it is more often not what, but who you know.

After a succesful career, spanning nearly two decades, in Sports Journalism he left Hull KR in 2015 to take up a very different role with KCOM. However, he points to “transferable skills”. Similarities with his media based position include communication, dealing with people and marketing skills. In his previous role he acted as a liaison for the club.

He spoke about some of his work on the ‘ KC in the Community ‘ programme which gives a lot to local charities, community groups, sports clubs and businesses. Recently, they donated 50 recycled mobile phones to  Preston Road Women’s Centre for the charity’s use. He has also visited many schools and colleges to talk about his experiences and views on the ‘world of work’.

Brendon considers himself to have been very ‘lucky’ in his career. He has embraced his work as Community Coordinator in order “to give something back” after all “why wouldn’t you”.

News Story

Hornsea’s Very Own Superbike Unveiled

lee-walton-unveils-hornsea-superbike

Lord Mayor, Lee Walton, unveiled Hornsea’s very own Superbike, a Yamaha R6, at Lucien’s Wine Bar, Newbegin, Hornsea, on Saturday 18th February.

The sponsor, Everquip Racing, is a Hornsea based British Super Sport team, set up to support Professional Motorcycle Racer, Bjorn Estment. They are to compete in the 2017 British Superbike series starting in April.

Manager Stuart Everard addressed a packed crowd at  Lucien’s. He introduced the team who were quite emotional at their dream becoming a reality. The rider, South African born Bjorn Estment , described the team as, ” tenacity, excellence, all together and motivated..the driving force behind the whole operation.”

He added, “The bike looks amazing. Everybody that has been involved has outdone themselves.”

Stuart Everard later joked, “I hadn’t actually seen the bike until just then. Which I find kind of offensive. I just paid for it,  so it doesn’t matter ! But I think the suspense of me waiting to see the bike went into the audience. I am so pleased for how it went.”

The event attracted visitors from Hornsea and the surrounding areas but the live Facebook stream saw viewers from the Netherlands, Germany, USA and as far as South Africa.

Carl Crisp, Stuart Everard’s business partner in the venture, explained that the team is very “Hornsea-Centric”, eight of the team members live in Hornsea. Bjorn Estment is now a  Hornsea resident as are most of the team mechanics. He stressed that they have put together an experienced team with the intention of winning and “really putting Hornsea on the map”.

Following the Superbike launch the team will be heading to Cartegna, Spain, for four days of testing. Further trials will follow at Donnington Park and Silverstone before the first race at Donnington on 1st April. The 24 races of the 2017 British Superbike series will be screened live on Eurosport and highlights shown on ITV 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting on council meetings

How to cover a council meeting

So you’re covering a meeting – maybe a city council or parish council -as a news story for the first time, and aren’t sure where to start as far as the reporting is concerned. Here are some tips to make the process easier.

Get the Agenda

  •  Get a copy of the meeting’s agenda ahead of time. You can usually do this by calling or visiting your local town hall or by checking their website. Knowing what they plan to discuss is always better than walking into the meeting cold.
  • Minutes -find out if this has been a long-running issue.

Pre-reporting

  •  Once you’ve got the agenda, do a little reporting even before the meeting. Find out about the issues they plan to discuss. You can check the website of your local paper to see if they’ve written about any of the issues coming up, or even call members of the council or board and interview them.

Find your focus

  • Pick a few key issues on the agenda that you will focus on. Look for the issues that are the most newsworthy, controversial or just plain interesting.
  • If you’re not sure what’s newsworthy, ask yourself: which of the issues on the agenda will affect the most people in my community? Chances are, the more people affected by an issue, the more newsworthy it is.
  • For example, is the council considering raising council tax by 3%, that’s an issue that will affect every homeowner in your Newsworthy? Absolutely. Similarly, is the local education authority debating whether to ban some books from school libraries after being pressured by religious groups, that’s bound to be controversial -and newsworthy.
  • On the other hand, if the town council is voting on whether to raise the town clerk’s salary by £2,000, is that newsworthy? Probably not, unless the town’s budget has been slashed so much that pay rises for town officials have become The only person really affected here is the town clerk, so your readership for that item would probably be an audience of one.

Planning Meetings

  • Many of the best stories appear in the weekly list of planning applications. Here, you can find first-class human interest stories.
  • Visit the planning department for further details if necessary.

Report, Report, Report

  • Once the meeting’s under way, be thorough in your Obviously, you need to take good notes or recordings during the meeting, but that’s not enough. When the meeting has ended, your reporting has just begun.
  • Interview members of the council after the meeting for any additional quotes or information you might need, and if the meeting involved soliciting comments from residents, interview some of them as well. If an issue of some controversy came up, be sure to interview people on both sides of the fence as far as that issue is concerned.
  • Seek permission or check your council’s stance if you plan to do any conspicuous film recording

Identifying Councilors

  • Make a seating  plan, put names to bums and keep it in  your contacts book.
  • Get pictures of them from the net and stick those pictures into your book, together with their party allegiance, phone numbers and email addresses
  • Get phone numbers and email addresses for everyone you interview. Virtually every reporter who’s ever covered a meeting has had the experience of getting back to the office to write, only to discover there’s another question they need to ask. Having those numbers on hand is invaluable.

Confidentiality

  • Confidential items -are ones that central government or a court has said should not be disclosed.
  • Exempt items are those which the council has decided to keep away from the media because they involve personal matters, such as employees’ contracts or material that is commercially sensitive.
  • Don’t ignore them -get legal advice!

Parish/Town Councils

  •  A constant source of stories for local papers
  • Usually meet monthly, are less formal and are often the starting point for issues which later become major stories

Understand what happened

  • The goal of your reporting is to understand what exactly happened at the meeting. Too often, beginning reporters will cover a town hall hearing or school board meeting, dutifully taking notes throughout. But at the end they leave the building without really understanding what they’ve just seen. When they try to write a story, they can’t. You can’t write about something you don’t understand.
  • So, remember this rule: Never leave a meeting without understanding exactly what Follow that rule, and you’ll produce solid meeting stories.

Get Rid of Jargon

  • Humanize your Keep the words council or committee out of your intro if you can.
  •  ‘Thousands of Midthorpe householders face bills for new wheelie-bins’ is much better than ‘Midthorpe District Council’s Environmental Health Committee decided at a meeting last night to introduce revised refuse collection procedures ‘
  • Banish jargon in council-speak, houses are dwellings, paths are footways and public seats are street furniture. Turn these words into easy, everyday language your readers can understand.

News Story-Event, Reflection

The New year’s Day charity swim in Hornsea attracted my attention because many years ago I participated in the event. Although back then it wasn’t an organised affair, just a bit of fun. The terrible weather conditions on the day peaked my interest further as I was keen to see if people would still turn up for the swim.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the car park full of cars when I arrived. A lot of people had come, both as spectators and participants. I spoke to some of the volunteers, who were collecting donations and organising hot drinks for everybody. I was also fortunate to witness the warm up of participants in the Boat House beforehand. Managing to get in before they shut the doors. The atmosphere in there was amazing, a real sense of team spirit and camaraderie.

I interviewed some of the participants and included quotations from ladies who had come from out of town to show that the event was not just for local residents. I also spoke to spectators and read comments later posted on Facebook.

The photos that I took of the event, highlight its success as  a fun event enjoyed by all.

As a local interest story the article would be suitable for the ‘ Hull Daily Mail’. However, on a national and even international level there are New Year’s Day swims taking place all around the world so it could be part of an article focusing on many of these events worldwide.

The ‘feel good’ nature of the story makes it appealing to all ages.

News Story-Reflection

For my news story I chose to cover the approval of a new skate park in Hornsea. The issue has been much talked about round the town. There was opposition to the renewal of the skate park on the current location. People living in proximity complained about the noise.

I went to look at the skate park to see what state the ramps were in and saw that it is in dire need of improvement. I spoke to some of the skaters who said that “if we don’t get it done we are going to be riding the streets on our scooters”.

Details of a  meeting to discuss the proposals for a new skate park were posted at Hornsea Town Hall. I was unable to attend but accessed the minutes of the meeting via the Hornsea Town Council web site. I went to speak with Lorraine Lyles who attended the meeting and is involved in the project. She added me to the Hornsea Skate Park User Group on Facebook where I found more information for my article.

I also spoke to Andy Dunn, the manager of Tesco, Hornsea. He confirmed Lorraine’s statement about funding from the store through the Community Scheme.

The article would be suitable for a publication like the ‘Hull Daily Mail’ or ‘The Holderness Gazette’. It is a local news story and of interest to residents of Hornsea and the surrounding area. The park is also used by visitors, in particular the people who own caravans in Hornsea, many come from West Yorkshire. For this reason, it could also be published in the ‘Yorkshire Post’.

The story is aimed at a wide audience, the young; skate park users and local youths but also anyone interested in local affairs, which could be any age.

 

News Story-Print

New Skate Park for Hornsea

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The existing skate park in Hall Garth Park, Hornsea

Plans for a new skate park in Hornsea, to be built on the existing site, have been approved by the Hornsea Town Council. A meeting was held to discuss the proposals on  Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at 7pm, Hornsea Town Hall. The meeting was presided by Hornsea Mayor, Councillor Lee Walton and  Ward Councillor John Whittle . It was attended by members of the Hornsea Skate Park User Group and parents of skaters.

The minutes of the meeting state that, “The Chairman advised that the recent consultation gave a vote of approval for replacing the skate park…The Town Council accepted the results of the consultation and approved rebuilding on the existing base.”

Work will begin on the new skate park as soon as funding is obtained.

The Town Council has identified the availability of £137,000 in grant money. An application to the Ward Councillors asking them to approve the grant money needs to be submitted before funds will be issued. The Mayor, Lee Walton stated, “I can’t stress how important it is for everyone to write to the two councillors.. they are in control of the money”.

The total figure for the funding will be in the region of £170,000.

Loraine Lyles, mother of a skater, is employed by Tesco and proposed that partial funds could be made “bag packing at Tesco”. She has discussed the project with the store manager, Andy Dunn.

“We have applied for funding through Tesco’s Community Fund, which we will probably receive because it centers on ground work which is what the user group is all about.”

Each Tesco UK store holds a community donation budget to help support with requests from their community for local fundraising events. Andy Dunn said that the Hornsea store views the project “enthusiastically” and will “support an application to use the ‘carrier bag’ fund”.

Professional skateboarder Paul Regan, who is also the director of Skateboard England ( a non-profit organisation that is the national governing body of skateboarding in England & Wales) has offered to work with the Council on a new design for Hornsea Skate Park. Paul, who previously lived in Hornsea, was one of a teenager group who were instrumental in setting up the original Skate Park, 16 years ago.

The optimistic guess for the earliest opening of the new skate park is Autumn 2017.

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