Hollon, who has had classes in public relations, also questioned the school superintendent's plan to have "print ready" press releases. "When I receive a press release in 'print ready' form, the first thing I do is come up with a way to change it that makes it unique to our publication," the weekly Adair County Community Voice, Hollon wrote. "Any good journalist worth their salt would do the same thing." The Voice competes with the weekly Adair Progress.
Hollon said a role model exists right there in Columbia: Lindsey Wilson College. "I can call just about anybody at LWC and have an on-the-record conversation. ... Developing a relationship with the media is more than just sending out story tips or press releases. It’s also about developing an open line of communication between the media and janitors, teachers, bus drivers and administrators." (Read more)
Hollon has it better than some. Lisa Gross, the director of the Division of Communications and Community Engagement at the Kentucky Department of Education, told us in an e-mail: "I recently talked to an editor at a newspaper in Eastern Kentucky, who told me that the superintendent of the school district he covers had informed him that he’d no longer be receiving press releases or news items from the district, because the paper had reported (truthfully) on some negative issues at a local school. When I talk to school district PR folks, I remind them that their local media outlets are not there to serve as 'cheerleader' for their school systems – media can be helpful, but they should not expect to only see the good things covered and not the 'bad' things." That's good advice that rural journalists need to remember, and on occasion share with school folks.