Inside WRAL

Top 10 ways to get our attention

Posted August 21, 2009

Have you ever submitted story ideas, photos or videos to WRAL? Our newsroom receives hundreds of e-mails and phone calls each week from viewers, PR people, businesses, school officials, etc. asking us to cover their story or use their photos and videos. I have some tips, tricks and helpful hints so you can stand out and get noticed when submitting these things to WRAL.

TIP #1: WE LOVE E-MAIL

E-mail is the absolute best way to get our attention. Phone calls are OK, but they’re not usually preferred. In the subject line, write the name of your event or story idea, the date and time. Send the e-mail about a week before your event. If you’d like, you can send a reminder e-mail a day or so before the event. You can e-mail us at:

  • assignmentdesk@wral.com for TV coverage requests
  • onlinenewsroom@wral.com for online story corrections, suggestions, etc.
  • Use this form to submit consumer complaints to 5 On Your Side

If you must call, the best time to do so is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, we’ll accept phone calls any time of the day, 7 days a week. To reach our newsroom, call 919-821-8600 or 800-245-WRAL.

TIP #2: STICK TO THE FACTS

Whether you see breaking news happening, have a question or want to suggest a story for us to cover, make your e-mail or call brief and to the point. It’s the best way to get (and keep) our attention when you’re requesting coverage. You should answer these questions:

  • WHO is involved? Also, who are you? How can we reach you if we have more questions?
  • WHAT is happening?
  • WHERE is it happening (what street or town)?
  • WHEN is it happening (date and time)?
  • WHY is this something people need to know?
  • HOW MANY people are involved?

You can e-mail us any time (see the e-mail addresses above), or, to send us photos and video, use the Report It feature on our homepage.

TIP #3: REPORT IT

Our reporters and photographers can’t be everywhere. That’s why your pictures, videos and personal stories are so important, especially during severe weather and breaking news situations. The best way to get your pictures and videos on WRAL.com and WRAL-TV is to use our Report It feature online. A complete description will help us identify your photo and improve our coverage. Use the questions in Tip #2 as your guide. Also, we don’t expect you to be a professional photographer, but try to submit your best work. Fuzzy photos and super-shaky videos probably won’t make the cut.

TIP #4: DON’T REPORT IT

There are several topics we tend to shy away from for various reasons. For example, if you call us and ask for help with a domestic or custody issue, we’ll probably say no. That’s best left to the courts and authorities. Our 5 On Your Side team also has some topics that they typically don’t cover. For more on that, see Tip # 8.

TIP #5: WRAL IS ALL ABOUT WEATHER

Some of our biggest stories are related to weather coverage – hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes and snow. If you see hail, hear thunder, or even spot a waterspout at the beach, we want to know about it! We love photos of kids playing in autumn leaves and pets experiencing the snow, for example. The best way to get them to us is the Report It tool.

TIP #6: DON’T BE A BADGER

Once you submit a story idea, feel free to send a follow-up e-mail. However, nonstop phone calls and e-mails can be a turn-off to our assignment editors who have the tough task of going through all the requests. Once we get your story idea (and decide that we might want to cover it), the assignment editors will add it to our calendar. If we like the idea, we’ll do our best to be there. But, no promises. It all depends on what’s happening in the news that day.

TIP #7: THE STRANGER, THE BETTER

Did you bake cupcakes for you child’s class? That’s very sweet of you, but it’s probably not something we’d cover. However, if you bake a 1,224-pound cupcake, then yes, we’d probably head right out there with our cameras. The point is, the stranger your story, the more likely we are to cover it.

TIP #8: GET 5 ON YOUR SIDE

Monica Laliberte and the 5 On Your Side team are the place to go if you have a consumer complaint. You can submit your complaint on the 5 On Your Side page. When filling out the form, please type in your e-mail address correctly. If you are using spam blocking software, be sure to add 5OYS@wral.com (and preferably all addresses at wral.com) to your allowed sender list before you fill out the form. If we try to send you a message and a spam filter bounces it back, you may not receive a reply. In your message, please give the name of the company you’re having issues with, what paperwork you have and what steps you’ve taken to address the problem. If Monica and her team are interested in your story, they’ll contact you within 10 business days. The 5 On Your Side team typically doesn’t cover these topics: child support and custody issues, criminal cases, medical issues, used car problems and employee situations.

TIP #9: YOU GOTTA GOLO

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with GOLO and how it works. We encourage you to share information with us by uploading photos and videos, writing blogs and starting groups in this place full of user-generated goodies.

TIP #10: PRETTY PLEASE, BE POLITE

Above all else, please be polite when calling or e-mailing us. Just ask our assignment editors, and they’ll tell you about some of the not-so-nice calls they get each day. “I need you to come here right now!” is probably not the best way to start a phone call with them. As for e-mail, ALL CAPS can be hard on the eyes. Other no-no’s: funky fonts, brightly-colored text and little or no punctuation. The easier your e-mail is to read, the more likely we are to actually read it.

A special thanks to my co-workers – Mary Alice Boliek, Jamila Elder, Claire Hudson, Jodi Leese Glusco and Lori Lair – for their help with this Top 10 list of tips.

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Inside WRAL takes you behind the scenes of the news business and the stories we cover.