One of the issues I'm often asked to address is how one writes a news release for publication. Here's the information I recently shared with a Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley public relations committee:
A news release is a written statement distributed to the media. It can announce a range of items: Scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, new products and services, sales accomplishments, etc. It also can be used to generate a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a release. It is a fundamental tool of public relations, one anyone who's willing to follow proper format can use.
* Write the headline. It should be a brief, clear and to the point: An ultra-compact version of the press release's key point. It should have a "grabber" to attract readers. The simplest method to arrive at a press release headline is to extract the most important keywords from the release, then try to frame a logical and attention-getting statement.
* Write the press release. which should be written as you want it to appear in a news story. Start with the date and city in which the press release is originated. The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. The content should be compact. Avoid using long sentences and long paragraphs. Avoid repetition and fancy language or jargon. Deal with facts-events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects.
* Communicate the 5 Ws and the H: Who, what, when, where, why and how. What is the actual news? Why this is news? The people, products, items, dates and other things related with the news. The purpose behind the news. Your organization-the source of this news. The length of a press release should be no more than two double-spaced pages. The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better the chances of it being selected by a journalist or editor.
* Include information about the company. After the title, use a paragraph or two to describe the company. The text must describe your company, its core business and the business policy. At the end of this section, point to your website. The link should be the exact and complete URL without any embedding so that, even if this page is printed, he link will be printed as it is.
* Add contact information so journalists could obtain more information. The contact details must include the company's official name, media department official name and contact person, office address, telephone and fax numbers with proper country/city codes and extension numbers, mobile phone number, timings of availability, email addresses and website address.
* The timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news, not too old and not too distant.
* Send your release by email without formatting and put the message in the body of the email. Do not send text attachments.
* Who to contact at The News and Sentinel: Executive editor Jim Smith at 304-485-1891, Ext. 282, firstname.lastname@example.org; Managing editor Paul LaPann at 304-485-1891, Ext. 221, email@example.com; City editor Jess Mancini at 304-485-1891, Ext. 260, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use the Virtual Newsroom at www.newsandsentinel.com to submit items and .jpeg photos.
* If the release concerns an event for which you are requesting coverage, give a week's notice to the media before the scheduled event ... and make a reminder call the day before the event. Do not expect the media to drop everything else to cover an event you have known about for weeks and are only contacting the media the day of or day before the event.