Think of Robot Reporter as “Mad libs™” for a robotics press release. Plug in some basic information about your team such as your team name, the event you attended, and how you did at the event, and out comes a professional-looking press release that you can copy into an email, and send to your local newspaper, radio and tv station!
This website is the brainchild of myself and Francis O’Rourke.
A couple weeks ago I read an article in the newspaper about a local FIRST team, and I was disappointed at how little information there actually was in the article! Then, I realized, there were teams that we didn’t even hear about in the newspaper, most likely because they didn’t put out a press release. An thus, Robot Reporter was born.
The current plan is to create a form specifically for off-seasons and exhibitions! Unfortunately, it will be pretty localized at first, until I get information about all the different events occurring! Keep an eye out for this in the next week or so.
This is a really fantastic tool that you can use to get the word out about FIRST and your team. During our initial testing, we saw people create a press releaese in about five minutes with only some very basic information and a couple quotes from team members. Any newspaper worth their salt would love to run a story about a local robotics team, but most simply don’t know they exist!
While you are using the website, also let us know of any feedback you have. Feel free to post it here or email it to the email address on the website.
Just tried it out on the post regional template, works pretty nice… a few comments:
"For information on 2530, … " Referencing the team as just a number would be very confusing to someone unfamiliar with the organization and FRC. We live and breath by the numbers, but the number is almost totally irrelevant to the press and its readers (unless they go to the event !) So maybe an “If you go to the event, look for the robot with the number XXXX” would be useful.
Have an option to put in a URL to a match video, and wrap some text around that. I find it helps if the person reading the release can pull up a YT video and instantly see that it has a “visual” potential, as most will think of small robots without getting a visual.
You make a great point about the team number. I’ll change that to the team name at the bottom!
As far as video goes, a press release is often intended to be printed out by the newspaper, TV station, radio station, etc. They’ll often like to see attachments, video, and links with the email that you send them! In the future (probably in time for next season, if not the last few off-season events of the year) you’ll be able to attach videos and pictures, and send the press release right from the pop-up window. For now, I would recommend putting/attaching them to the email that you paste into!
Depending upon the technology used, the only thing that you can pretty much guarantee will survive as the release is circulated is the actual text body (that you are generating). If some curmudgeon editor insists that his assistant print out all the releases for his review, and he can’t type a tiny URL from the text into his PC, he may never see the video. The more channels by which someone can see the media you want them to see, the better off you are.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in touch with a few reporters at my local news paper while developing this project. I’ll check with them tomorrow on the preferred format to receive videos! In the mean time the best option would be to put a full link to the video either in the About the Team section, or attaching a video file to the email when you send it.
So, I have a reply from the Chief Photographer at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which is my local major newspaper. They cover all of central Massachusetts, and I also happen to work part-time in their advertising department. Here is his answer:
“A link to YouTube would be the most efficient way to distribute the video. A video file may not get through firewalls and would most likely be too large for email.”
So in that case, I would certainly recommend putting the YouTube link in the About the Team section, if you have a video you would like them to see.
As far as including photos, here is what he also had to say:
"Send .JPGs but keep the total combined email size under 10 MB.
Photo specs should be about 2-3 MB per photo, that would allow 3 or so photos per email…]
Some publications do not allow attachments, especially smaller ones. In that case place the photos in a file sharing service like Dropbox or Flickr and send a link."
Thank you for this! I feel as though I will be using it in the near future seeing as our last press release somehow featured the wrong schools as members of our team. :yikes: I can only hope it doesn’t happen again!
We’re redesigning the awards section to be clearer on when you can select an award, and there’s a tutorial on how to use the form on our facebook page.
We’ve also added a guestbook on the website, so please say hi and tell us what you think when you stop by.
Don’t forget to send out your Pre-Championships press release! Include a link in the About the Team sections to where they can find the webcast so that your hometown can cheer you on while you compete.
Made some minor changes to the Regional/Championship Event form
Added the ability to fill out the Off-Season form for an event that’s not listed
Congratulations are in order to everyone who competed at Championships this past weekend! It’s no small feat that you were able to advance to the most prestigious event in the FIRST season! Special congratulations to all who won awards, to 1538 (The Holy Cows) who won the Chairman’s Award, and to 610, 1241, and 1477, who are the new World Champions.
Everyone should let your hometown and fans know how you did. Now is the time to send out a press release to your local media outlets, let them know where you were the last couple of days, and what you were up to!
We are looking to update Robot Reporter for all the off-season events. But, we need the help of people in the community.
These days, there are a lot of off-season events run during the summer and fall. If you are running one, please send us an email to info AT robotreporter.org with the following quick pieces of info:
Name of the event
Date(s) of the event
Event location (city and state)
A list or link to any awards at the event
And if possible, a couple sentences giving some information about your event (sponsors, history, teams running etc.)
With all that, we will create an event specific form that teams at your event can fill out in minutes and generate informative, professional looking press releases they can send to their local newspapers, radio, and TV stations.
Thanks, and if you haven’t already, be sure your team has tried out Robot Reporter for their post-Championship marketing efforts!