View all articles in this issue
Put the Spotlight on Your Chapter
Download this article for $0.00 (FREE for Members)
by Virginia Andreoli Mathie, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Officer - Psi Chi National Office
Category: Executive Director's Message
At this point in the academic year your chapter has probably sponsored several successful programs, or one of your chapter members might have received a Psi Chi grant or award. Be proactive in sharing your chapter’s achievements with your university and local communities by publicizing your upcoming events, successful programs and service activities, members’ awards and grants, and chapter awards and recognitions.
Many chapters send emails or post announcements in the department about upcoming Psi Chi events. Don’t forget to follow up the event with announcements that describe your successful programs. People are attracted to and pay more attention to thriving organizations, so take the opportunity to inform others about your chapter’s successful programs as well as awards or recognitions. You might consider a variety of methods to publicize your chapter. For example, in addition to emails and posters, consider distributing bookmarks that list upcoming events for the semester on one side and awards or recognitions on the other side. Your chapter could also work with your student newspaper to print a monthly Psi Chi column or announcement. Press releases that highlight special achievements are also effective public relations tools. Sending press releases to hometown newspapers is a particularly nice way to recognize your members’ outstanding Psi Chi achievements. Here are some tips for effective press releases that are based on strategies used by public relations experts (R. Farberman, personal communication, September 16, 2005; Lee & Steele, 2007; Smulson, 2005). These lists are also available on the Psi Chi website (www.psichi.org/chapters/press.asp).General Tips for Successful Press Releases
Writing the Press Release
- Target your school’s newspaper, your school’s local community newspaper, and members’ hometown daily or weekly newspapers. These are likely to be the most productive outlets for chapter publicity.
- Build a relationship with your school’s public relations office so the staff can help your chapter prepare press releases and announcements for alumni newsletters and magazines and faculty newsletters as well as local and hometown newspapers.
- Check your school’s library or public relations office for a copy of Bacon’s Newspaper/Magazine Directory (2008) to get the name and email address of the person to whom you should send the press release. This publication contains a comprehensive listing of all U.S. daily and community newspapers. If this directory is not available, ask your members or use the Internet to track down information about the newspapers in members’ hometowns.
- Send the press release by email. Use the Subject line to catch the person’s attention.
- Target the typically slow days: weekends, Monday, and holidays.
- Be persistent but not pushy or demanding. If you don’t get the first press release published, keep trying.
The most effective press releases are short focused pieces that include only essential information. Keep the list below in mind as you write your press release.
- Include at the top of the press release the date, the name of your chapter, the email address and phone number for your chapter’s contact person, and a title that will capture the readers’ attention.
- Write professionally and in language readers will understand. Proofread your copy carefully to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
- Address who, what, where, why, and how in the press release.
- Put the most important information at the beginning.
- Write the first two sentences so they capture the readers’ attention by establishing the link between the community and the content of the press release and showing why this information is important to that community.
- Keep the text short, simple, and focused on the event/accomplishment you want to publicize.
- The hometown angle is important with hometown newspapers so be sure to make the link between the award winner and the local area (e.g., local high school attended).
- Try to tie activities to current news events where appropriate (e.g., recent news story, time of year these events typically take place).
- Do not exaggerate; be accurate.
- Include information about Psi Chi at the end of the press release. An example of such a summary is available on the Psi Chi press release website.
Your chapter is an important contributor to the education community so put the spotlight on your chapter!References
Bacon’s newspaper/magazine directory. (2008). Chicago: Cision. Lee, B., & Steele, S. (2007, February). PR 101: How to get desired results. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of College Honor Societies, Tampa, FL.
Smulson, E. (2005, September). Messages in and messages out: How congressional members utilize the news media. In N. Levitt (Chair), Importance of effective communications: Using the news media to advance psychology within your community and on the hill. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association Education Directorate’s Education Leadership Conference, Washington, DC.
Winter 2007 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 5), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2007, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.