When a news release is submitted several things should be considered before moving forward. A comprehensive news release package, containing the final and approved news release and a dissemination plan, will help the TFS Communications Office to process the news release quickly and efficiently.

     + Submission Process
    When considering drafting a news release several things should be contemplated before writing and submitting the release. The list below provides a guide to those items and will ensure a timely, well written news release.

    Choosing to draft a news release
    News releases should be utilized to share important information on a singular topic with the media and public. There are two types of release audiences:
    Public - directed toward the public that shares interesting or important information that the media can share with their audiences. This could include announcing a new app, inviting them to a workshop or promoting a TFS led project.
    Media - directed toward the media only, typically inviting them to an event for interviews and photo opportunities.
        Questions to consider
            Is this news worthy or relevant to our audiences?
            Why should people care about this topic?
    The timeliness of your news release is critical to the success of the release. Typically, news releases are disseminated Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Consider the following before selecting a dissemination date:
    If the release is announcing an award or sharing important information with the public, it should be timed with those announcements.
    As a general rule news releases should be disseminated at least two weeks prior to an event. Too close to the event and people will not be able to make arrangements to attend, too early and people will forget about the event before it actually happens.
    If you know that you have an event or announcement coming up, you can consult a TFS Communications staff member on the most effective dates.

    Utilize the TFS news release template to guide the writing process, or visit the TFS Newsroom to view examples of previously disseminated news releases.

    Submitting a news release
    News releases should be submitted to the TFS Communications Office one week prior to your goal dissemination date. This allows for the editing process to be completed and the news release approved by all parties.
    When submitting a news release, provide a brief background on why the topic is important and any other pertinent information.
     + Editing process
    A Texas A&M Forest Service Communications staff member will review all news releases and provide edits that adhere to accepted writing practices, as well as AP style. Always be prepared to make corrections to your news release.
    If the release needs minor edits, a copy of the changes will be sent to you prior to dissemination.
    If the release needs major edits or revisions, a copy of the release will be sent with explanation of what is needed to finalize the release.

     + Dissemination plan

    Upon dissemination from the TFS Communications Office a variety of other actions are completed, all designed to extend the reach of the news release. The list below provides you an idea of what you should consider with each news release and what items our office will be requesting.

    All news releases are placed in the TFS Newsroom. You can also view previously disseminated releases here.

    A photo will be requested to accompany the story on the main page of the website and social media. Best horizontal image size is 1,024px x 512px (typically used for Facebook and Twitter). Best vertical image size is 800px x 1,200px. Photos should be .jps. Providing more than one photo to choose from will extend the life of the release. Please provide timely and appropriate photos. We cannot utilize photos from non-TFS sources without express permission to do so.

    Target audience
    Who are you trying to get this news out to?
    Physical location – what cities will be interested in the story? Is this a state-wide story? Use the Texas Designated Market Areas map to help you select locations.

    Demographics – are you inviting the media or public to an event?

    Are you providing information to the media so they can share with the general population?

    Is this an invitation to attend an event?

    What other methods are you using share this information? (Community calendars, partners, advertising, etc.)

        Does this item need to be disseminated through the Listserv program?
            TFS-TREE-NEWS – use for news that is forestry/tree related
            TFS-INCIDENT-NEWS – use for news that is fire-emergency response related
            TFS-NEWS – use for news that you want to send to both audiences.

    Social Media
    All news releases are featured on the TFS main social media channels. This includes the TFS Facebook and Twitter. Consider the following:
    Who are the cooperators in this event? Are you working with another entity? Do they have social media channels? Compile a list of these groups with links. (TPWD, TIFMAS, etc)

    Arbor Reader
    Almost all news releases detail a topic that should be included in Arbor Reader. Consider if the topic should be included prior or after an event.
    Are we inviting TFSers to the event? If so, prior to the event helps share the information.
    What about this release would be interesting or helpful to fellow employees?

    Courtesy Copies
    List of recipients that need to receive a final copy of the news release from you. This includes cooperators, anyone who you received assistance from and any other parties that might be interested in the story.

     + Preparing for inquiries resulting from the news release
    Speaking points
    Draft speaking points to provide to your spokespersons to ensure you are sharing the same key information. Speaking points would include:
    Facts – locations, names, titles
    Answers to frequently asked questions – consider what the media might be asking
    Remember, speaking points are not scripted answers, but serve as guidelines for the spokespersons, similar to a cheat sheet of important information.

    Contact Information
    List of available, knowledgeable spokespersons that have the provided speaking points.
    This includes names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses. Be sure to confirm job titles with all spokes persons not employed by TFS.
     + News release checklist
    Before submitting a news release you should have:
    • A word document containing the news release, following the TFS template
    • A dissemination date in mind – remember releases should be submitted to the TFS Communications Office one week prior to this date
    • Reviewed your release utilizing the TFS AP style handbook     

    Prior to requesting the dissemination of a news release you should have a:
    • Photo for the TFS website and social media
    • List of your target audiences and other methods using to share this information
    • Listserv selection
    • Draft of social media posts (one Facebook, three tweets)
    • Arbor Reader article – if the article needs to be published prior to the event. If not, please be prepared to draft an article for a later edition.
    • List of your courtesy copy recipients
    • Contact information for all spokespersons

    A complete news release package includes a final and approved version of the news release and a dissemination plan.