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.
- 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