BASICS OF A QUALITY NEWS RELEASE
Publicity vs. Advertising
Many organizations assume
that newspapers are waiting breathlessly by the fax or constantly
checking their email to receive their latest news releases. NOTHING
COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Usually, newspapers are overwhelmed
with news releases and so there is no guarantee that it will be used.
Also know that when you submit a news release, it can be changed.
Newspaper editors look for a specific style in writing and will edit
your release to reflect the industry’s standard.
Many organizations churn out news releases written just to obtain
free advertising. If you’re just after advertising, the only way to
guarantee that your event, need or community project will “make the
paper” in larger newspapers is actually to advertise it – that means
buy an ad.
Is it news?
Ask the question, “Is this really newsworthy?” If it’s newsworthy,
the information you present will appeal to a large audience not just a
select few. The subject matter will draw the attention of people not
connected to the project and ignite a desire to learn more about the
organization or event. A quality press release should answer the most
simple of questions: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. If it can’t, then
perhaps the activity is not ready for the papers. The release should
focus on something or someone unique and present a unique perspective
for the reader.
Standard News Release Format
Double-spaced with two-inch margins so the editor can make notes.
Use one side of 8.5x11 paper. Do not exceed two pages. Longer releases are not read.
Use letterhead. Date the release. Always identify a contact
person, their title, phone number, cell phone, fax and email contact
information at the top of the page.
Always identify the information as “For Immediate Release” or “Embargoed until __date____”
Write a headline above the story – Bold font and underlined.
Identify the town from which the story originates, enclosed in parentheses. Follow this with two dashes. (Tulsa--)
Lead with a sentence that sums up the story.
Use the most important information first. Follow it with sentences in decreasing order of significance.
At the end of the release indicate “–END-“ or “-30-“
If the release covers more than one page put “–MORE-“at the bottom of the first page.
Always put any additional contact information at the end of the release.
Other Tips for news release writing:
Open big…try to grab the reader’s attention
Use real life examples
Base it on facts
Keep it focused
Use active voice not passive
Don’t ramble, be specific
Do not use abbreviations or jargon that the average person would not understand
Do not over punctuate or write in all upper case characters
Use multiple paragraphs
The first paragraph should provide the specifics and answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why.
-Top of Page-
Let the text wrap naturally and do not place hard returns at the end of each line.
Different newspapers have
different requirements regarding the use of email addresses and
websites. Research each newspaper to learn requirements.
Be careful with email
Technology continues to advance communication standards. Be
careful listing personal email addresses and websites in a press
release. Once printed, that information is available to Spiders and
Spammers. Your risk of receiving spam or having your email harvested
Never include the symbol of another company or organization without their written approval.
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