12 Agencies at Obtaining Positive Media for 2003
of Camden Police Department
City Police Department
of Newark Police Department
Jersey State Police
Township Police Department
Borough Police Department
Brunswick Police Department
Township Police Department
The above twelve departments are the ones that seem to pull off getting
the most positive press for their agencies. They are the ones we see most
often in the print media with positive coverage. Such results reflect a
proactive effort toward obtaining positive coverage for themselves and
working with the press.
Obtaining more positive press coverage for your agency is not that
difficult. After reading this piece, visit our New
Jersey Law Enforcement Media Center. It is a page containing
contact information for all local and regional media outlets.
Below is an outline of how to improve the positive press coverage of your
departments only allow a certain person to issue press releases. This is
counterproductive and, often, too much work for the officer(s) assigned.
Department policy should allow certain press releases to be issued by OIC’s
and above. If concerned, this allowance can and should come with
guidelines permitting such releases only in the case of non-high profile
incidents. Obviously, a patrol sergeant shouldn’t be speaking to the
media about a triple homicide where the prosecutor’s office is leading
the investigation. However, if one of his or her officers makes a great
arrest or heroic rescue, the sergeant or OIC should be allowed to and
required to issue a press release as soon as practical.
this responsibility should come basic instruction as to what information
can or should be released. It’s not rocket science either. The training
will take about 20 minutes if prepared, and written guidelines should be
given to officers attending this training.
best way to have your story make it in the paper is to have a contact with
the press. Developing relationships is easy too. Issue a few press
releases to different reporters, and when you find one who you relate to
well, forward all releases to him or her. Reporters have bosses breathing
down their neck for articles. They love nothing more than a contact who
feeds them ideas and stories. Contacts should be made at all of the local
and regional medial outlets.
Releases Always in Writing
is where many departments fall short.
a press release in writing is mandatory in a good press program for
it protects the issuing officer from any accusation of releasing
inappropriate information. Second, if there
Police & Fire
are mistakes in the printed
story, again, the issuing officer is protected. Third, in the written
press release you will strive to credit all deserving persons and
agencies. If when the article comes out a deserving officer is upset for
not being mentioned, he or she can be given a copy of the press release
showing that the agency did recognize his or her efforts and did credit
issuing a written press release saves a lot of time. The issuing officer
can simply drop it in a fax machine or email and jet it off to three or
four local and regional media outlets instead of having to make the same
phone call three or four times.
the actual press release can posted in headquarters to publicly recognize
the officer(s) for their accomplishments.
the involved officers should never be the ones issuing the press release.
Using a third party as a buffer shields the involved officers later in
court if any part of the article came out wrong.
the email address of your contacts. This is, by far, the most convenient
method of issuing press releases.
Derek Glenn of the Newark Police Department is the master of New Jersey
law enforcement when it comes to this one. When he issues a press release,
it goes to twenty-four different media outlets ranging from local papers
to the Associated Press to all of the major networks. Yes, even we made
when the press receives an email, they can just cut and paste the
information which makes their job easier.
press, especially television, loves visuals.
are something that can be photographed to accompany the article. Mug
shots, photos of seized contraband, and pictures of involved officers are
all good examples of visuals. When preparing the written press release,
indicate that you have visuals for any interested media entity. Sometimes,
having available visuals will mean the difference between your release
making the paper or making the shredder.
the press release as if you were writing the story for the local paper.
Most of the time they will change it, but, when in a rush, the article
that appears in the paper may look very close to your press release.
NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS. Doing so is sacrilegious in the journalism
world, difficult to read, and, often, pushes the reader away to something
paragraphs, and separate them with spaces. The only thing more annoying
then all capitals is an article that just runs on in one giant blurb of
supply contact information in the piece for any follow-up questions.
say that an officer pulled someone from a burning car. If the car is in an
impound lot, offer to accompany them to the lot for photos. If an officer
revived a person choking on food and the person is okay, offer an
interview with the victim provided that you check with the victim first.
If the victim only speaks Spanish and you have a Spanish speaking officer,
offer that officer to translate. Use your judgment here. You know what is
and what is not appropriate.
whatever you can to make their job easier.
never do anything that could jeopardize an investigation or violate
someone’s privacy, always follow your agency’s rules and regulations,
and, when in doubt, check with a superior or lean on the side of caution.
Everything written here is subject to the circumstances of the incident.
Jersey Law Enforcement Media Center