Drop-in articles, also known as repro-proofs or camera-ready news, are an effective, cost-efficient way to spread information on children's and youth's mental health needs, as well as your success stories. A drop-in article is a type of news article that is written for direct insertion in community and weekly newspapers. Similar to a feature story in content, your National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day drop-in article should focus on soft news and have a longer shelf life than more time-sensitive news releases.
What Makes a Good Drop-in?
- A drop-in article should briefly articulate messages and facts about your program and children's and youth's mental health needs in an interesting way. Try to avoid listing straight facts and figures, but offer solutions to the problem and/or issue you are posing.
- Familiarize yourself with the article format and style found in weekly and community newspapers. As an insertion piece, your drop-in is more likely to be placed if it mirrors other articles written by newspaper staff.
- Make your article engaging and newsworthy. Raise your audience's awareness while pulling at their heartstrings by highlighting the challenges children, youth, and families face in dealing with mental illnesses-and the success your program has achieved in providing services to these families. Emphasize strengths by highlighting the "Thriving in the Community" theme.
- Keep it short, sweet, and easy to read. Limit your article to no more than 600 words and tailor it to an eighth grade reading level. Use bullet points to pull out important topics, and format the information so that the most important information is in the first part of the article. (Editors cut copy from the bottom up, so it is important to put your most critical messages at the beginning of the drop-in.)
- Give your article a direct link to the local audience. Focusing your drop-in article on children's mental health needs in your area will amplify the local appeal, increasing your opportunity for placement.
Who Wants This Intriguing Article?
Community newspapers tend to have much smaller staffs than larger daily papers-sometimes only an editor and several staff or contributing writers. Providing the paper with a drop-in article that provides newsworthy information on children's and youth's mental health and the valuable contributions your program makes to your area will save the newspaper staff time and get your mental health messages out there.
- When building a media list for drop-in distribution, be sure to collect the name, address, e-mail, and fax number for the editor-in-chief, editorial assignment editor, and feature editor-or whichever of the three are on staff with the papers you are targeting. Smaller community papers might only have a publisher or editor as a point of contact.
- Before sending your article, find out what format the publications prefer. Some prefer to receive camera-ready materials on slick paper, while others prefer electronic layouts, usually in PDF format. Still others prefer to lay out the articles themselves, so they will want to receive articles as Microsoft Word documents.
- Do not be afraid to target a wide range of outlets for drop-in distribution. The more places that receive your drop-in, the higher the odds for placement. The following is a list of examples for alternative drop-in article placement:
- School newsletters or newspapers
- Supermarket news handouts
- E-blasts or fax blasts to your mailing list
- Faith-based organization publications
- Publications for ethnic minorities
- Mental health journals
- Business journals
- PTA/PTO newsletters
- School administration publications