These materials have been gathered to assist you in promoting your Law Day activities. Some materials are ready for distribution. Others require localization or are models of materials that you can create locally to best encourage and assist your media as they promote Law Day and cover your activities.
If your local Bar Association is not sponsoring activities, you may find the public service announcements especially appealing. By reprinting them on your Bar Association's letterhead and distributing to the local media, you will be generating awareness for Law Day and the contributions of this profession to your community.
Reporters appreciate a list of professionals they can contact as experts on the topic. We highly recommend that you create a list to include your local sources first. Among recommended contacts might be your bar association president, bar association executive director, Law Day chair, local judge, or other individual actively involved in Law Day activities. It is recommended that these people agree to be included in the list and feel comfortable talking with the press.
Michigan Legal Milestones
Michigan is the first state to recognize significant events in legal history with bronze plaque markers throughout the state. Check the Michigan Legal Milestones list and capitalize on those markers near you as a site for Law Day activities/remembrances. Suggest this topic to reporters as an ideal feature story.
Please take a moment to complete the feedback form included in this packet. We would like to know what pieces you did or didn't find helpful, and what other support pieces you would find helpful. We would also appreciate newspaper clippings of the coverage you received as a result of items in this packet. You can also send us materials you have created to be used for Law Day. We can include a link to a report of your events or to samples of your projects at the Law Day website.
Please send them to:
Tips on Pitching Ideas and Working With the Media
Determine Local Media contacts
At least four weeks in advance of your activity determine who covers law-related news in your community, both newspaper and broadcast media. Take a moment to call reporters, introduce yourself, and remind them that Law Day is May 1. This is your first opportunity to introduce your plans to celebrate Law Day and to invite the reporter to begin thinking about ways to cover your Law Day activities. Offer your assistance and let the reporter(s) know you will be providing additional materials to assist them in their coverage.
Monthly publications in your community have deadlines of up to 30 days in advance of their publication dates. Weekly papers have deadlines 5 to 7 days prior to publication. Daily papers have early a.m. or mid-day deadlines dependent on their daily press time. To ensure that events are included in print, broadcast, and marquee calendars, distribute new releases 15-30 days in advance.
Highlight One or Two Things
News releases aren't always successful on their own. Follow up on news releases by taking the time to speak with reporters about each activity planned. Select one or two activities that might appeal to the press and its audience emotionally and visually and pitch those events specifically. Events including children, senior citizens, award recipients, or those becoming naturalized citizens are ready news/feature stories. Be prepared to suggest the visual/audio appeal of a story. This is especially important to broadcast reporters, though newspaper reporters are always looking for a good photo opportunity as well. And remember, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. A great feature photo with caption can be as powerful as a story.
How could the media better cover your events? There may be better opportunities for coverage than the simple story and photo we expect. If your Bar Association or association auxiliary is sponsoring a K-12 essay contest in conjunction with the State Bar of Michigan, persuade local radio and television stations to air portions of the winning essays as read by their authors. These pieces may become very appealing PSAs to promote Law Day awareness. Offer the media co-sponsorship of the PSAs in exchange for the air time. Since these essays are brief (300-500 words), they may be appealing news features when read in their entirety. The same essays should be offered to the newspaper, which might elect upon your counsel, to publish them in a series over several days or weeks (depending on type of newspaper), or collect them in a special section. Involving the authors in a publishing experience is an excellent exercise in free speech and worthy of coverage.
Law Day Awards
If your Bar Association is sponsoring law-related awards such as the Apple for the Teacher Award or the Liberty Bell Award, speak directly with reporters about the importance of these individuals contributions, why they are being honored, and why their story deserves to be told. Feature stories about these individuals directly enhance attitudes about the law and generates awareness of how individuals make a difference. Local talk show hosts should be approached about featuring these individuals on their shows. The chair of the nominating committee or other Bar Association representative might be an additional guest to talk about why the individual was selected and why the association gives these awards.
Choose an Appropriate Site
Capitalize on appropriate sites in your area as locations for Law Day events. Sites with a tie to the law make very appealing backdrops for media coverage. (See the Michigan Legal Milestones list).
Capitalize on Co-sponsorships
When two community organizations work together on an activity, not only is the activity newsworthy, but the collaboration can be appealing to the press as well—and the benefits of coverage can spread even further. Get spokespeople for partnering organizations on talk shows together to talk about the project's importance to law awareness and the significance of the partnership.
Stage an Event
Capitalize on unique elements of events or stage a unique event. The more unique, spontaneous, entertaining, visually pleasing the activity, the more likely the press will find it appealing. Examples of this include: Fifth graders arguing a legal case before a local judge; a law-related adaptation of Jeopardy, Quiz Bowl, or a Spelling Bee involving high school students or community leaders; or hundreds of red, white, and blue balloons released with law-related messages and response cards will draw coverage because of the community involvement and entertaining appeal. Encourage balloon finders to let you know where the balloons landed. To the media you can pitch generating widespread law awareness and guarantee yourself a follow-up story on how far the balloons traveled and who found them.
Providing "give-a-ways" to the local radio station for a day of law-related trivia contests will generate more air time at very little cost. The American Bar Association has a variety of low to medium priced items that promote Law Day and the theme. To obtain the ABA's Law Day Planning Guide or to order items call (800) 285-2221 or visit www.abanet.org.
Make It Easy
Be thorough when providing information to the media. The more information you provide, the less they have to gather. You make their job easier for them by creating a press packet, by reproducing items included in this packet, and by adding your own local items. New releases must contain: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Include a calendar of events to help get reporters and photographers to events, not to mention participants. Contact lists put experts at the reporter's dialing finger tip -- but only if your sources are accessible. Be sure sources know and agree to serve as media contacts, and that they are comfortable doing so. Each activity should have a contact who can speak with enthusiasm and authority on the subject/event. Put as much of your information on paper as possible. The media's coverage is more likely to be more accurate as a result.
Sample Press Release #1
For Immediate Release
(Your Organization Name ) to Sponsor Law Day Essay Contest
(City, state)*—(Your organization name) is sponsoring an essay contest for area students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades as part of Law Day 2006 celebrations.
The theme of the contest, (insert theme), encourages students to let their voices be heard as we as Americans continue to protect—and perfect—the rights and responsibilities of a diverse society under law.
Three winners in each grade level will receive a U.S. savings bond, and various prizes. In addition, winners will be invited to a luncheon on (insert date) in Lansing, Michigan, where they will be honored for their achievement.
Students and their parents are encouraged to contact their teacher or principal for contest rules and deadlines.
Law Day is an annual nationwide event, designated by the U.S. Congress in 1961. Its purpose is to raise public awareness of American law and justice and their valuable impact on our lives. Bar Associations, civic groups, government officials, and educators all over America participate in Law Day activities the week preceding May 1 and during the month of May every year.
For more information, please contact (name and phone number).
Sample Press Release #2
For Immediate Release
(Your Organization Name ) Names Winners in Law Day Essay Contest
(City, state)—(Your organization name) has honored (number) area students as winners in an essay contest held in conjunction with Law Day 2006 celebrations.
Winners include: (name, year in school, name of school).
The theme of the contest,(insert theme) encourages students to let their voices be heard as we as Americans continue to protect—and perfect—the rights and responsibilities of a diverse society under law.
(Quote from a leader of your organization complimenting the quality of entries, level of enthusiasm shown by students, etc; include name and title)
The winners will receive a U.S. Savings Bond and various prizes. They will also be invited to a luncheon on (insert date) in Lansing, Michigan.
Law Day is an annual nationwide event, designated by the U.S. Congress in 1961. Its purpose is to raise public awareness of American law and justice and their valuable impact on our lives. Bar Associations, civic groups, government officials, and educators all across America participate in Law Day activities on or around the week preceding May 1 and during the month of May every year.
Sample Public Service Announcement (PSA)
RE: Law Day Event: Free Legal Advice Clinic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Senior citizens can meet with attorneys free from 9 to noon, Wednesday, May 1 at the Northside Senior Center. For more information, call 555-1234.
Senior citizens can meet with an attorney to receive free legal advice from 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 1 at the Northside Senior Center, and from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2 at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street. For more information or to reserve a time slot call 555-1234.