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PRESS KIT FOR TEACHERS

This file presented you with the basics of preparing media releases for the purpose of acquiring press coverage of your Live From the Hubble Space Telescope special events, as well as providing a *sample* Press Release. Although the LHST project is no longer current, the information here is still very useful.

We hope you agree that during the LHST project teachers and students were involved in an unparalleled experience in educational technology and science reform. Connecting students for the first time with Hubble scientists and researchers as they served as "co- investigators" in an unprecedented learning adventure surely was worthy of press coverage.

We also feel it is important that you share your efforts with the administration, school board members, and community. Making the public aware of the extra efforts dedicated to quality science teaching and learning is an important part of your outreach efforts. Sharing the Passport project also helped "spread the word" and promote broader local/regional involvement.

This kit will provide you with valuable hints to consider as you prepare your own special Press Releases. You will no doubt want to alter the sample release to fit your own unique situation.

Sincerely,

The Passport to Knowledge Team

----------------------------------------------------------------

PRESS KIT: Live From the Hubble Space Telescope Project

Part I. HELPFUL HINTS TO EFFECTIVE MEDIA COVERAGE

  1. Your press release should always contain the five W's:
    WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHY?
    (see example Press Releases )

  2. Be sure to include the name, position, phone and fax numbers of the person from your institution that the media should contact to arrange interviews, get additional information, clarify a point, etc.

  3. All the important information about the event and why the media should attend (what makes the event unique, special, relevant, significant to many people) should be detailed in the release.

  4. The Press Release should be brief-- never more than two double-spaced typewritten pages (probably one) in general, use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Never use a word in a Press Release that you wouldn't use in everyday language.

      If your release is more than one page, type -MORE- at
      the bottom of the first page.

    Note: Different media people may prefer press releases of different lengths, but it is more common that more information is appreciated rather than less.

    Use school/office stationery. Never use carbon copies, although Xerox copies are fine, and always keep a copy of every release you send out.

  5. Press releases should be double-spaced, on one side of the page. Make sure that full names are used, not one initial and the surname. Double check spelling of all names. Make sure all names, dates, etc. are correct. Include proper affiliations for those who are mentioned in your press release. Double check the date and the day of the week in your release.

    If you must ask for a specific publication date, it should read: EMBARGOED UNTIL (DATE AND TIME). Avoid "hold releases" whenever possible. Always start copy 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down the page so the editor will have space to write a headline for the story and give other instructions.

  6. All press releases should be distributed to the editor at small papers, the city or assignment editor at large papers, the campus media, the assignment or news manager at radio and television stations, and specific department editors and beat reporters who cover issues relevant to the story's content.

  7. Press releases notifying the press about an event should reach the media in a timely fashion.... three-fours days before the scheduled event and never less than a twenty-four hour notice. All editors, should be called the day preceding the event and reminded of the event.

    The best time to hold a press event is between late morning and early afternoon, while the best days are Monday through Friday, since there are fewer reporters, camera crews, and editors assigned to weekends.

  8. Use of quotes (also called "sound bites" in TV) : Make available the best spokesperson (in this case one of your more eloquent students may be desirable) who is both personable and enthusiastic. Encourage them to "be themselves."

    Most "sound bites" are typically a maximum of fifteen seconds in length and it is often helpful to practice answering anticipated questions in such tight time frames.

  9. Use of Props: If you have props (i.e.: student produced projects, classroom models of the Hubble Space Telescope, models of the planets, background posters, etc.) be sure to use them as backdrops or within the interview for demonstration.

  10. Additional hints:
For Newspaper coverage......

*Attach printed background material along with your Press Release and give the reporter at least a few days to become familiar with the materials.

  • Provide quotes (the equivalent of sound bites for newspapers) and identify each person being quoted. (If you are writing the materials, feel free to quote yourself.) You may also wish to identify others in the field (along with phone numbers) whom the reporter can contact for additional quotes.

      Note your student's comments that relay a sense of
      excitement and motivation!
  • SELL the story to the newspaper reporter or editor. Tell them in writing why you feel this is an important event to cover. Share your excitement about the event!

  • A picture, especially a color picture, helps to make a newspaper story interesting. Check with the local newspapers as to whether they prefer color or black and white prints or if they can use slides.

    Capture your students doing hands-on activities, actively engaged in a demonstration, working with a model of the Hubble, planetary system, amateur astronomer, etc.

    Local Television....

    • Local TV coverage is a very effective medium for sharing your special events. Contact your local TV stations at least a week-two weeks in advance of the event. Be prepared to share what will be unique about your event and how it appeals to the viewing audience.

    • Try an unusual angle..... for example, rather than a feature news story, perhaps offer a connection between the Hubble Space Telescope and the nightly weather report. The HST, as the world's largest planetary weather satellite, might motivate the Weatherman to include a special segment focusing on your student's "Weather Report on the Planets" as part of his nightly weather program.
    • Make video clips available of related events that might be included in the report. Be sure to use high quality tapes with clear sound recording.

    • Remember the use of "sound bites" (see item 10)--quotes that are both concise and effectively stated.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Sample Press Release:

    Live From the Hubble Space Telescope Project

    For use by participating schools
    Remember: Use letterhead stationery!

    ********************************************************

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!

    For more information, contact:

    Insert headline here:

      ex. "West Salem Middle School Students
      Make the Hubble Space Telescope their
      own "Backyard Observatory!"

    Insert
    West Salem, Wisconsin, March 6, 1996

      More than 125 sixth grade students will gather together in the West Salem Middle School auditorium for a historic live telecast entitled "Making YOUR Observations," to be broadcast on March 14, 1996 by the Passport to Knowledge education project via NASA-TV and PBS stations around the country.

      This event marks the first time ever that students will serve as "co-investigators" in Hubble Space Telescope observations. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Baltimore, Maryland dedicated three of the Hubble orbits to this project enabling students to assist in the planning and executing of planetary observations. Scientists must compete for Hubble orbits through a rigorous application proposal procedure, making student-based observations a truly unique event.

      "Making YOUR Observations" is one of two live broadcasts associated with the Passport to Knowledge education project, Live From the Hubble Space Telescope. The Passport projects incorporate live TV, on-line networks, print, and hands-on materials to bring "real science, real scientists, real time, real locations" into the classroom.

      Previous Passport projects include Live From Antarctica (Dec.1994-Jan.1995) and Live From the Stratosphere (Oct.-Nov., 1995) Students from West Salem Middle school also participated in these electronic field trips and as one student stated during the Live From the Stratosphere project, "I felt like I was flying on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, even though I was on the ground here in our classroom!"

      The West Salem students contributed to an on-line discussion that determined which planets students would observe with the three Hubble orbits given to them. After much debate, the students felt that Pluto deserved their support. Consensus on-line determined that both Pluto and Neptune would be the "winning planets."

      Planetary scientists, Marc Buie and Heidi Hammel, along with other Hubble Space Telescope team members and students from various uplink sites will view the new data from the Hubble observations live during the broadcast. Uplink sites include Seattle, Spokane, Munich, Germany; Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI-- Baltimore); and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

      On-line access will be available during the programs with student monitors from Mr. Jensen's class will be coordinating the sending of questions via email.

      Following the programs, the students will be sharing the special group research projects with students in fourth grade classes. Models of the HST, planetary weather reports, and space science demonstrations will be shared in small groups.

      This is a unique opportunity to share how our school is integrating leading edge technology into the science curriculum.

      Please plan to join us for this extraordinary event.

      ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________



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