My first experience being the publicity chairman for a nonprofit came when I was about 15. I had the unenviable job of writing press releases and delivering them to the Valley Sun and to the Ledger newspaper in Glendale.
These articles were typically along the lines of “a good time was had by all,” a catchphrase of the day that summed up our youth group’s outing to Huntington Beach, or perhaps to an amusement park or a museum. If we were submitting any photos, they had to be in black-and-white for best reproduction in the newspapers. The text itself, composed on a typewriter, had to be double-spaced. The name of every participating girl and adult chaperon had to be included — and spelled correctly.
A dawdler, I usually found myself scrambling at the last possible minute to meet the papers’ deadlines. I always managed during the six months I had that assignment, but just barely. It was a huge relief to me — and perhaps to the papers’ editors — when I moved on from that responsibility to helping organize the group’s monthly luncheons instead.
This all comes to mind today because school is almost back in session and social groups are also gearing up for their seasons. In recent years it’s become a tradition during late August to devote a few words here to advising incoming volunteer publicity chairmen on how best to achieve get the word out in the Valley Sun.
First up, let’s talk deadlines: If you’re hoping to see your activity publicized on a particular Thursday, we need to receive it from you by 5 p.m. the Friday before. If it comes in any later than that, there is a very good chance it will not hit print until a week after your targeted date.
While we do still accept walk-in press releases and photos like those I handed in years ago, we must confess this is not our favorite method of receiving them. Please email your news (single-spaced text is perfect; and please, we’re begging you, do not use ALL CAPS!) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It would be great if you would help us out by using the email’s subject line to tell us the name of your group and perhaps something about the topic of the release. Photos should be sent as jpeg attachments, not embedded in the body of an email, and everyone pictured needs to be fully identified from left to right. By the way, these days we prefer photos that are in full, living, glorious color.
Alas, items no longer need be sent to the attention of Mickey Caruso, who for several years tended with great care to our Life & Leisure and Society sections, so please remove him from your list of Valley Sun contacts. At the beginning of the summer Mickey was offered a job at the L.A. Times and all-too-swiftly accepted it. We still exchange emails, but we sure miss having him in the office.
Society maven Jane Napier Neely continues to put together the scoops on special events. If you think your gathering should find a place in the venerable “Valley Line” column that Jane prepares each week, send her an email at email@example.com.
Best of luck to all the publicity chairmen who are buzzing about the Foothills this time of year. We stand ready to help deliver the news of your group to your neighbors.
CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the La Cañada Valley Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com