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Develop Media Relations

Local Media

As a squadron PAO, your local media is invaluable to you. Make a date and meet the editor of each of your local papers, especially the weeklies. Find out what each editor wants, what approach they like, how they want you to give them the information … then send it in to satisfy the editor’s needs.

Dailies are time-sensitive. Occasionally, a daily will accept an article covering an event that took place two days before, or even older, but that is a rarity. Generally, if it’s over a day old, your chances of getting an article published on a daily are extremely poor.

Weeklies are more flexible, and will publish an article describing a 4- or even 5-day-old event. They might even have a “focus” section where they can take a “backgrounder” describing what your squadron does.

In all cases, when you have a big event coming up, your best bet will be to contact the editors and let them know about it, so they have the chance to send a reporter. When that happens, make sure to explain what is going on, what is important, why it is important, and to what extent CAP works in support of local, state and national organizations.

All of the above is also applicable to TV stations, except that usually they’ll only air what they have shot themselves. Stock film won’t make it to the air unless you’ve captured a disaster that no one else has. Should you be this lucky, your footage is likely to go viral and make it to national distribution.

Note: The principles above work well for PAOs assigned to higher positions, even wing and region.

Byline

Often, the newspapers will steal your byline and pretend that they wrote the article themselves. Occasionally, they might give you a token credit reading, “Parts of this article were provided by XXX,” where XXX is your name, grade and organization. Never mind that, CAP got published, and you are a CAP PAO. So keep feeding that editor. Should you get well-known enough, eventually that editor will respect your byline — or not. Be aware that most large media outlet editors have egos to match.

Do not be upset by the above, nor “punish” the editor by not submitting other articles. Remember that our mission is to get the CAP story out, by hook or by crook. If the paper steals your byline, and your higher headquarters’ PAO knows that you submitted the story because you passed the story through that PAO for a first edit, you’ll get the credit in “CAP’s books.”

Byline

When you have a good working relationship with an editor, and you can offer a nice event that is coming up, give that editor a heads up and offer the article before it’s happened. Newspaper editors, too, like to plan their issues — a luxury they seldom get.

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