Approaching the media with your bailiff news

Approaching the media should ONLY be done if there are no ongoing legal proceedings.


If you want to attract the attention of the media with your bailiff story, you will have to approach them professionally.

These relations consist of all your contacts with reporters, editors, program producers, and others in the print and broadcast media. Your aim is, of course, to generate favourable coverage of your bailiff experience.

The stronger and more sensational your bailiff story is, the more likely the media will cover it.

Remember, media producers will always edit to their own agenda. Not yours.

The media's primary concern is with what's newsworthy. This is why working with the media requires a lot of hard work. You can't get to know the media overnight. You can't expect maximum coverage unless you spend time communicating by mail, by telephone, and in person.

Keep in mind that the duty of media professionals begins with their publication or station and with the interests of the people they reach - their market.

They also have a responsibility to maintain editorial distance and from the story they cover. They try very hard to remain objective, not to play favorites and to be emotionally detached from outside contacts.

Your story begins with your bailiff experience and how to convey your interests to your audience. When you work with the media, you must perform a balancing act between what you want to say and the needs of the media.

That's the way it always will be. To you, your story is special; to the media, it's merely one among many. This is why, in addition to getting to know editors, reporters and broadcast producers, you need to take certain actions or develop certain attitudes that will allow you to play with the media for the best results.



Writing your initial approach letter

If you call media people with a story idea, they will require you to send something in writing. It's much easier for them to take a straightforward chronicle of your story than to piece it together from a telephone conversation.

Also, they can look at your material when they have the time to focus on it. Your approach letter is your formal introduction to the media person.

In it, you will describe yourself and your story, why your story would be of interest to their audience. You want to convince the media that your story is worth covering and it is of public interest.

Target the media you think will be interested in your story and then call to ascertain who would cover this type of story.

Get the precise spelling of that person's name, their title, the correct mailing address, and a phone number if it is different from the one you called. This may sound elementary, but professionals in the media constantly complain about receiving letters with misspelled names and incorrect addresses.

If you make errors like these, how do they know that you aren't just as careless with the information you're sending them?

Your approach letter must be concise, and should be restricted to one A4 page of information.

You send it to the main editor of a local newspaper, the news director of a local radio station, and usually the person in charge of the assignment desk for a local television news program.

You can also approach a newspaper feature editor, or the coordinator of an afternoon radio talk show. Once you develop a media kit, discussed below, you can enclose it with your approach letters.


Developing a press release

Press releases are an important part of a PR campaign and the primary means of getting your story to the media. All press releases are structured the same way.

The press release should be double-spaced.

It should be on plain white paper and printed with black ink. Editors look at hundreds of press releases every day, and if yours is difficult to read, they will bin it.

Your letterhead should also be at the top of the first page, to establish your identity. You can make a special letterhead for this purpose if you choose.

No typos or grammatical errors. A press release containing such errors will get a negative reaction.

Should be typed, as opposed to hand-written. Print out (or type out) a fresh copy for each person to whom you send it. Do not send out poor-quality photocopies with dark staple marks or blotches.

Must contain the six basic elements:

And how


Put the most important facts in the lead paragraph, with the facts decreasing in importance as you go down the page. Why? If you send a press release to an editor who has five inches of space, and your release runs eight, the editor would trim your release from the bottom. Therefore, put the less important things there.

You need a contact source. In the top right-hand corner of the first page, there should be a line that reads "For further information, contact. . . ". A telephone number and name should follow. The editor must have somebody to call to answer questions or to be interviewed

The best press releases have a dateline, the date the release is written before the text begins. Every press release needs a dateline so that the editor can tell when it was mailed. Nobody wants to cover an old story that has completely lost its meaning. If you expect to get free press coverage, you should take care of this detail.

If your release does run longer than one page, put "more" at the bottom of each page except the last, and put "end" at the tail end of the final page. Additionally, be sure to number each page in the top left-hand corner with a page number.

You can usually improve your chances of receiving media attention if you include a picture or a screen grab of a bailiff document with the written material. Newspapers will use black and white images while a magazine would probably prefer color slides or prints.



Stories that have a greater chance of publication should include:

Bailiffs causing or threatening breaking and entering when no rules provided for it

Charging thousands in fees for work not done

Bailiffs causing personal injury or an assault

Children being exposed to civil enforcement

Business that have been forced to shut down because of unlawful or wrongful bailiff action

Bailiff crime performed in the presence of police officers who failed to intervene

You are a victim of enforcement for a debt that is not yours

Bailiff companies that repeatedly break the same regulation over and over again