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How to attract media and plan your Hour of Code event

Key Tips

  • Reach out to media two weeks before your event via email. Follow up by email and phone if you don't receive an initial response.
  • Ask a school staff member or volunteer to take photos to share online or send to press.
  • Write about the Hour of Code on your website’s homepage and in your school newspaper. Post your event details, and pictures of student activities.
  • On Facebook and Twitter, share updates on your plans, announce your events and post pictures during Dec. 8-14. Use the hashtag #HourofCode so Code.org can see and promote your events.

Step-by-step guide:

1. Plan your event

  • Plan an assembly to kick off the Hour of Code.
  • Send a letter to parents. Ask them to spread the word.
  • Send a letter to invite your local mayor, congressman, governor, or influential businessperson to attend and speak to your students.
  • Organize group activities (like a demonstration of an ‘unplugged’ programming activity), or show off student-created and led activities.
  • Show Code.org’s Hour of Code video (coming soon) or one of these to inspire.

2. Identify specific local reporters that cover education or local events.

Think a local newspaper, TV station, radio station or blog.

Look online to find reporter contact information. If you can't find it, call the publication to ask, or email a general tips@PUBLICATIONNAME.com email address and ask for your message to be directed to the correct reporter.

3. Contact local media

The best way to reach out is by email. It should be short and communicate: why should other people care about this event? Include contact information (including a cellphone number) for who will be on site at the event. See a sample pitch to media:

4. Prepare to field questions about your school event. Here are some examples:

Why is your school doing an Hour of Code?

While all of us know that it’s important for students to learn how to navigate today’s tech-saturated world, many teachers aren’t experienced in computer science and don’t know where to start. This event is a chance for all of us to see what computer science is about.

We hope it’ll spark interest in students to keep learning. Research also shows that kids pick up programming concepts before they know how to read and write. In fact, their brains are more receptive to computer languages at a young age, just like foreign languages.

Why is this important?

In China, every students takes computer science to graduate high school. In the U.S., 90 percent of schools don’t even teach it. It’s time for us to catch up to the 21st century. We know that regardless of what our students do when they grow up, whether they go into medicine, business, politics, or the arts, knowing how to build technology will allow give them the confidence and know-how to succeed.

What happens after this one hour?

At first we didn’t know what to expect, but our students are loving these activities! We’re going to keep going incorporate these activities into math classes. Our school also started an after-school computer science club. After I realized I couldn’t pry my students away from the puzzles, the first thing I did was contact our district offices to ask about supporting more computer science curriculum.

More details and a quote you can use in materials

"The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code, to show that computer science is not rocket-science, and anybody can learn the basics," said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. "It’s now on track to be the largest learning event in history, proving that the demand for relevant 21st century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries."

About Code.org

Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to growing computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming. We believe computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry, and algebra. For more information, please visit: www.code.org.

Sample letter to media

Subject line: Local school joins millions in teaching computer science for the first time

90 percent of American schools don’t teach computer science. Fewer students are learning how computers work than a decade ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. And yet, technology is increasingly shaping almost every aspect of how we live our lives.

That’s why every one of the 478 students at Washington Elementary School are joining in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), every student from kindergarten through 5th grade will spend one hour learning computer science, doing online tutorials featuring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Angry Birds.

We are writing to invite you to attend our kickoff assembly, and to see kids start the activity on Monday, Dec. 8.

The Hour of Code is a campaign to prove that regardless of age, race or gender, anyone can learn how to not just consume, but build the technologies of the future.

Our students are among over 2 million already planning to try one Hour of Code during Dec. 8-14 worldwide. This movement, organized by Code.org and supported by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and over 100 others, is a statement that today’s generation of students are ready to learn critical skills for 21st century success.

Contact: Carol Parks, Principal, cell: (212) 555-5555

When: Dec. 8-14, during Computer Science Education Week. Our kickoff assembly is on Monday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m.

Where: Washington Elementary School, 839 W. 112th Street, New York, NY 10030

I look forward to being in touch.

Sample letter to parents

Dear Parents,

We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and less students are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why our entire school joined in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), every one of our students will be amongst over 2 million worldwide spending one hour learning the basics.

Our Hour of Code is a statement that [SCHOOL NAME] is ready to teach these foundational 21st century skills. To continue bringing programming activities to your students, we want to make our Hour of Code event huge. I encourage you to reach out to local media, share the news on your social media channels and consider hosting additional Hour of Code events in your outside of school, in the community.

This is a chance to change the future of education in [TOWN/CITY NAME].

See http://hourofcode.org for details, and please help us spread the word.

Sincerely,

Your principal

Sample letter to politicians

Dear [Mayor/Governor/Representative/Senator LAST NAME]:

Did you know that in today’s economy, there are three good, high-paying jobs waiting for every person who graduates from college with a degree in computer science? And, computer science is important to every industry and professional pursuit. The discipline is foundational for all students today. Yet 90% of schools don’t teach it, and fewer kids learn to program than 10 years ago. At [SCHOOL NAME], we are trying to change that.

Our entire school has joined in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), every one of our students will be amongst over 2 million worldwide who will spend one hour learning computer science.

We’re writing to invite you to take part in our Hour of Code event and speak at our kickoff assembly. It’ll take place on [DATE, TIME, PLACE], and will make a strong statement that [State or City name] is ready to teach our students critical 21st century skills. We want to ensure that our students are on the forefront of creating technology of the future--not just consuming it.

If you have any questions, please contact me at [PHONE NUMBER OR EMAIL ADDRESS]. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, [NAME], [TITLE]





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