So, You Want Some Publicity, Part 2: What I Will Write


{All photos courtesy Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons Public Domain license.}

My last blog post covered extensively how to present article ideas to the press, and in my specific case what would make me NOT want to cover your news (basically, being a jerk about it). So, what types of articles DO I write about?

When KC Stage picks their monthly spotlight, we do it several months in advance. We want to spotlight someone who’s involved in a show (on or off stage) that’s performing the month the spotlight will appear. How do we determine that? By what’s been entered into the KC Stage website at that point — even if no cast or crew is entered, just the show listing is sometimes enough for us (especially if it’s a show where we know the characters). That means shows that put their information months ahead of time have a much better chance. I also try to make sure we not only alternate gender every month, but mix it up as to where the person is located (so we’re not always focusing on, for example, Johnson County artists) and the level (academic, community, or professional) the person is at. We also try to pick someone we haven’t spotlit before.

In part 1, I mention I have a petty side: this works for what I will write as well. I will readily admit I am more willing to write an article or spotlight personally (or send on a suggestion to the contributor list) for an organization that has supported KC Stage via advertising. We are an all-volunteer organization, and I am not above supporting an organization that supports us in return. Now, before you go all ‘journalism should be fair and balanced’ on me, I won’t automatically write an article or spotlight on an organization that’s purchased advertising: I still make sure there is a valid news item. But as I wrote before, we have over 200 organizations registered with us that are all putting on performances. If a spotlight comes down to two possible people, I will more likely go for the person who’s with an organization that’s shown support for KC Stage. I will also be more favorable towards organizations that have treated me well or that have people in it who aren’t divas (to me or to those I know).

Aside from that, it’s hard to explain why we pick someone to spotlight over someone else. For me, sometimes it’s someone I’ve heard of that I want to know better. Sometimes it’s someone I know who I know deserves the recognition. And sometimes, it’s just a matter of that person fits all the requirements listed above and the staff just picks someone. For example, March’s spotlight will most likely be someone with the Kansas City Ballet’s Giselle — if I can set up an interview, that is — because we have only spotlit one other dancer from them before (who was male) and March is time for a female.

For better or for worse, since we are an all-volunteer organization, straight news stories that aren’t just press releases are few and far between. And these releases I edit to fit our style and to make them less advertorial. As to which press releases get put in the magazine, it’s a combination of what we’ve seen on the staff and what will fit into the space.

When I do get a chance to write straight news stories, I tend to go with news items that are positive (i.e., new programs or a particularly outstanding fundraising campaign). I feel there’s enough negativity in the news these days, so for me to write a critical or negative news story it has to be something that I feel is particularly newsworthy. It’s not to say I won’t write these (I’ve written more than one critical editorial, for example) — but negative news stories do need more work, as you need to check and double-check your facts before going with it. I don’t have much experience as an investigative journalist, and my lack of time for KC Stage articles makes me feel I wouldn’t be able to give a critical news story justice.

So, if you want publicity in KC Stage about you or your organization, make sure you do your research on what we’ve written about before (you can see all our past issues for free online, but I would focus on the last six months or so), and to quote Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.” And I think that’s a valid tip no matter who you’re trying to get to do a story.