News Releases and Story Pitches: The Basics

This Webinar was originally broadcast on:
May 21, 2015 Enroll Now
Watch and listen to the original one-hour Webinar in its entirety. This Webinar recording features the full presentation led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty including Q&A from the audience and resources from the presenter.

Course Overview

News Releases and Story Pitches: The Basics
Originally Broadcast On:
May 21, 2015
Time Estimate:
One hour for the main presentation and questions. Sometimes presenters stay longer to answer additional questions from participants.

This Webinar is $11.95 for members of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). Watch your member email to get details about the discount.

About Webinars

In this virtual classroom, participants can join in a seminar led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty. This screencast includes live audio and a slideshow presentation in which participants can post questions and respond to poll questions posed by the host.

Doing research that no one hears about or putting on an event that no one attends is about as useful as an abacus in the digital age. Creating new knowledge, planning an event, creating a new program, opening a new business, celebrating a milestone -- no matter what your news is, if it's important to your community, you want to get it covered by media websites, highlighted in the paper and mentioned during local newscasts. But few people know how to do so effectively.

This Webinar will cover the basics: what makes an item newsworthy, how to format a news release, what information to include in the release and, most importantly, the lead, and what it takes to make an effective pitch. Getting news in front of journalists is not enough. You have to write effectively, use the right format, develop a relationship with the person you're pitching to and, most importantly, actually have news to share, not just advertising.

What Will I Learn:
  • The purpose of the inverted pyramid and why it matters in releases
  • The format of a typical news release
  • Benefit statements and tips for writing an effective lead
  • What journalists and other producers consider when determining “newsworthiness"
  • Tips for keeping pitches from being deleted before they are even read
Who Should Take this Course:

Professionals, academics, marketers and others who are not accustomed to pitching to journalists.

Course Instructor:

Lorie Briggs

Lorie Briggs is a communications and marketing officer for the University of South Florida, working specifically for the USF Muma College of Business as the director of communications and external relations. Her job responsibilities are varied and include media relations, marketing, special events, social media, public relations, and other communications functions.

Technical Requirements:

1.4GHz Intel® Pentium® 4 or faster processor (or equivalent) for Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended) for Windows 7 or Windows 8
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10, 11; Mozilla Firefox; Google Chrome
Adobe® Flash® Player 11.2+

1.83GHz Intel Core™ Duo or faster processor
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)
Mac OS X 10.7.4, 10.8, 10.9
Mozilla Firefox; Apple Safari; Google Chrome
Adobe Flash Player 11.2+

Bandwidth - 1.5 Mbits/sec up and down. We strongly suggest viewing our Webinars with a wired connection.

Some networks, especially those that use a proxy server, may encounter difficulty connecting to our Webinar software. If this is your first Poynter NewsU Webinar, please test your connection.

This Webinar contains audio. Please adjust your headphones or speakers.

Questions? Read our Webinar FAQ or contact us at

You can watch our Live Webinars on your iPad with a free Adobe Connect app. To watch Webinar replays, your iPad must be able to view Flash media players. The Live Webinar experience on your iPad is very similar to watching it from your computer. You can watch the video, follow the presentation, respond to polling questions, ask the presenter questions and participate in any discussion forums.

Download the free Adobe Connect app from iTunes here. To access the live event, click on the "Join Live Event Now" button on the Webinar landing page. The virtual room will automatically load. Viewing recorded Webinars on iOS devices is not currently supported.