On any Given Day, up to 70 percent of all stories in U.S. newspapers were either released or pitched by public relations and communications firms.

Most large companies staff entire departments with people whose job is to get their company in the news. Religious organizations can employ the same methods to spread the word of their meetings. Here's how.

First: The media needs you.

Most newsrooms are short-staffed; reporters have little time and need a constant stream of ideas. If you have a change in leadership or a new program, let the media know.

When your organization has a meeting, alert the local media. If you have a speaker of national prominence on the agenda, alert the media. Will your speaker grant interviews to the press? Is the event open to the public? If so, how may someone attend? What industry trends or changes will be discussed? Have you hired a new leader? Can you guess? That's right, alert the media.

Before a meeting, you might consider encouraging your members to send press releases announcing their plans to attend to the newspapers in their hometowns. This alone would get your organization coverage in newspapers across the country. And your members will learn a valuable marketing strategy that they can use over and over again.

Second: Reporters are relationship-oriented.

Getting expanded coverage for your events requires personal contact. E-mail your release to the reporter, then follow up with a call. Introduce yourself and confirm that the reporter received your release. Then ask if you can continue. Never begin pitching a story idea without first getting permission to do so.

The media needs you. But they owe you nothing. Help them by providing them a steady stream of new ideas. Respect their time. Treat them as cherished partners.

Michael Hart is a speaker and trainer on publicity, www.MichaelHartSpeaks.com.