It’s easy to get your news and information published to the parish. Here’s how to do it:
The primary news vehicle now is the website, which in turn provides the content for weekly email updates to the entire parish community. To get your content published, write it up as a news story with as little formatting as possible – just the text – and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips for an effective announcement:
- Use news format: That means standard prose in paragraph form and complete sentences. Imagine that what you’re writing will be published as a new story (not a display ad) in a newspaper. A news story is not the same as a poster or flier, and posters and fliers are ineffective as website content.
- Don’t bury the lead: Get to the point. Remember that people skim these stories, and if you don’t get their attention with actual information in the first sentence, they won’t read your message. A bad “news story” begins with old church newsletter saws like “Got the winter blues and want some have some fun Milwaukee style? Come one, come all! Get your dancing shoes on! The entire parish invites you to …” Ugh! just tell us what you want us to know!
- Write in the third person. Assume that the reader doesn’t know who you are.
- Headline: You should write a headline for your story. A good headline is short, uses active voice, and is informative. Examples of bad headlines: “Treasurer’s report”, “Service to be held”, “Bad news to report” or “Just a reminder”. Good examples: “Adult formation resumes for February”, “Prison ministry seeks members”, or “Evensong features Bruce Springsteen”.
- Photo: Our website automatically crops photos to a standard shape, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, horizontal. And in some cases, it crops even more, to 19:6 horizontal. Remember that when you’re submitting photos. If your photo is vertical, make sure there is enough room on either side that it can be cropped to horizontal. If you are able to crop it yourself, that’s very helpful. Keep the subject of your photo in the very center for best results.
- Copyright issues: Copyright holders routinely scan websites, including those of churches, looking for copyright violations. Make sure you don’t submit copyrighted materials, including photos, unless you have permission to publish it on the website. If that’s the case, please make sure to include copyright info (e.g., “Photo by Lee Matz, © 2018. All rights reserved. Used by permission.”)
- Contact info: Wherever possible, include contact information with your story. If you list a person’s name as the contact person, make sure you also provide an email address or phone number. Check out, for example, the last bullet point below. But also consider this:
- Privacy: Remember that our website is public. Don’t publish an email address, phone number, or any other personal information unless you have the subject’s permission.
- Embargo and expire: It’s a great idea to send news items well ahead of the dates you want it published. It’s very helpful if you give us a start and stop date for news items. Our software can honor those dates automatically, so you can be extremely precise. For example, you can have a message appear automatically at 3 a.m. if you like, and especially helpful for events, your news item can expire at a precise time. So a music event might be set to expire one hour after it starts. That helps us make sure our website is as fresh as possible.
- Questions: Contact us at email@example.com!