Mallory Boulware

This is a blog for PR Writing

Chapter 5 Notes February 19, 2010

Filed under: COMM 4333,Reading Notes — mbboulware @ 10:41 am

These notes come from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox

1.  A press release is the backbone of almost every publicity plan

2. Between 55 and 97% of all news releases sent to media outlets are never used

3. Daily newspaper editors receive about 2,000 news releases a day.

4. You have to make your news release stand out

  • Follow a standardized format
  • Provide information that will interest the audience
  • Material must be timely

5. News releases create awareness about ideas, situations, services, and prodcts.

6. When planning to create a news release ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the subject?
  • Who is this designed to reach?
  • What benefits will this bring the audience?
  • What is the goal of the organization?
  • Do you want to change attitudes, behaviors, etc…?
  • What key messages should it highlight?

7. For printed and/or faxed news releases:

  • The paper should be 8.5 x 11 inches and 20-24 pound weight.
  • Double-space
  • Use 10-12 point font-Times Roman or Courier are easy to read
  • Set margins 2 inches from the top of the page or letterhead and 1.5 inches from the sides and bottom
  • Don’t split sentences or paragraphs between pages
  • Don’t hyphenate a word at the end of a line
  • Number the pages
  • Place a slug line at the top of each page to identify it.

8. Do not use colored paper unless you just really want to- in that case, opt for a pastel or an ivory

9. For e-mailed or Internet news releases:

  • Use single-spacing.

10. For bulk mailing or faxing, double-space your news releases.

11. Always use AP style or some variation.

12. There are 5 types of news releases:

  • Announcement- highest-ranking person should make the announcement to attract more press
  • Spot announcement- for storms, accidents, fires, etc. that influence the organization
  • Reaction release- when an event has an influence on the organization (i.e. oil prices rise causing FedEx to charge more for shipping)
  • Bad news- confront the issue!
  • Local news

13. There are several parts of a news release:

  • Letterhead- fives the name of the organization and its complete address, phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses and websites
  • Contacts- listed directly after the letterhead with their full name, title, phone and fax numbers and email address. Usually the writer of the news release
  • Headline- usually in boldface and slightly larger type, gives quick indication of what it’s all about
  • Dateline- all caps, start of the lead paragraph, includes city and date of release
  • Lead- most important part, gives basic details. Don’t make it too long, don’t hype it up. Several types of leads: straight summary- used for announcements, informal lead- used for publicizing community events or reporting survey results, and feature lead- a “hook” for the second paragraph

14. Boiler-plate: standard paragraph at the end to give some basic information about the company so reporters get some idea about their size and purpose.

15. Standard e-mail news release is now fewer than 200 words

16. In an e-mail news release you need to:

  • Use bullets
  • Write 2 or 3 short sentences in each paragraph
  • Provide all contact information
  • Never send as an attachment- journalists usually do not look at them

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