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Free and Easy Publicity

from LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 3, June - July 1997, pp. 54
by Deborah Wirtel
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Publicity is a great tool for La Leche League Leaders but it can be a concern, too. Some Leaders may think publicity will cost more than their Group can afford; others may think the writing involved in publicity is beyond their abilities.

Relax. For the most part, publicity is free and readily available. With a few helpful hints, it can be easy too.

What is publicity? Publicity can be as simple as word of mouth or a poster displayed in a neighborhood. It can be a listing in a calendar or a press release written by a Leader or Group member.

Word of mouth publicity comes from mothers who attend Group meetings. A mother who has gained a good impression of La Leche League will bring her friends to meetings. Word of mouth might also come from family members of breastfeeding mothers or the staff at your health care provider's office. La Leche League's growth in its early years depended heavily on word-of-mouth publicity.

A meeting notice displayed in public areas is another way to publicize your Group. Some places to consider include public libraries, grocery stores or places of worship. To get the word out to new and expectant mothers, target your efforts in areas these women may frequent: health care facilities for pregnant women, babies and children; child birth education classes; maternity or children's clothing stores; preschools. Remember to get permission from the store, school or office where you plan to place your notice and check with your Group's District Advisor about the content of your display.

Getting meeting information in a locally published newspaper can reach many people quickly. Press releases, photo press releases and meeting notices in the calendar section of newspapers are often free and open to anyone able to get the information to the newspaper office by the specified deadline.

Large city daily papers may have weekly neighborhood sections that target the audience your Group serves. A call to the editor of your neighborhood section helps assure that your publicity does not get lost in all the big city news.

Calendar sections, also known as activity or meeting sections, print the basic information that readers need to know about events. Each newspaper has specific requirements for submissions to these sections. It's always a good idea to call and find out the deadlines and what kind of information is needed.

These simple rules make preparing a press release easy and painless:

The main element of a press release - the lead - includes the 5 Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

  • Who - La Leche League of Anytown;

  • What - whatever you are publicizing (monthly meeting, fundraiser, baby fair);

  • Where - location of the event;

  • When - time of the event;

  • Why - explanation of what La Leche League is or what this event will accomplish.

Sometimes a How is used as well, to round out information. If you're publicizing your monthly meeting, the How might explain the four topics in the series of meetings or that Leaders are available at meetings to answer breastfeeding questions.

A press release is always written in "inverted pyramid" style. That means all of the important information - the 5 Ws - is placed in the first few paragraphs; the information is fleshed out in the rest of the release. This allows the newspaper editor to edit your release from the bottom up. Even if everything except the opening paragraph or two are cut when space is limited, readers still get all of the important information.

A line such as "For more information, call Lucy Leader (phone number)" at the end of a press release usually will not be cut, even if other information before it is. Editors do realize the importance of a contact person.

Press releases publicizing your monthly meeting can be pretty dry if you use only facts. A catchy opening line or paragraph can grab the readers' attention. If you find lively openings hard to write, let co-Leaders or members read your release. Someone may have an idea on how to jazz up what you are writing. Information on press releases and other publicity can be found in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, pages 129- 137.

Photos are always eye-catching and can many times say more than words on paper. Pictures showing activity, such as photos from a recent fundraiser, auction or baby contest look good in newspapers. Along with your photo, send a short paragraph from which the caption can be written. Include the 5 Ws when you describe what is happening in the picture and what you are publicizing.

With just a little time and effort invested in publicity, a Group can increase the number of mothers attending meetings and help LLL grow.

Sample press release

News contact: Lucy Leader 555-1234
For immediate release

What's Best for Babies

We all want to do what's best for our babies and breastfeeding can be a part of doing what's best. Mothers wishing to find out more about breastfeeding are invited to attend a meeting of La Leche League of Anytown June 1, 1997, 7:30 PM at Anytown Town Hall.

La Leche League of Anytown is a breastfeeding support group for new and expectant mothers. La Leche League of Anytown offers meetings, education and support. La Leche League Leaders of Anytown are also available by phone for anyone who needs more information.

La Leche League International was founded in 1956 by seven mothers who wanted to help make breastfeeding information and support more widely available to other mothers. Today La Leche League International is in 66 countries throughout the world.

To find out more about La Leche League of Anytown, call Lucy Leader at 555-1234.

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