Monday, June 27, 2011

Write a Press Release That Gets Printed

Getting your press release printed goes back to what most of us know.  Know your reporter. Reporters and editors are overworked, under paid great people providing a service to our communities. 

Find out what you can do for your reporter with a good press release.  Make their day by easing their work.  No ALL CAPS; proof, proof, and proof again; make sure it is really news; provide a photo with a full caption that they can chop, put the important things first (so they can chop from the bottom); thank them when it is printed and the finally do not get upset if there are errors (most people won't notice the errors and the ones that do, you know they have read the article).

I could stop right here, but there are a few reminders that some veteran press release writers may need to hear.

  1. Make sure it is news. (This deserves its own blog entry.  Read next week's)
  2. Keep a consistent format for all your news releases. Provide a Headline to capture the essence of the release.Write the body of the press release. Give the 5 Ws & an H.  Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Provide contact info if the reporter wants more information. I always put my cell number here. 
  3. Provide the most important information first.  Place things that are good to have but unnecessary to the story at the end. This is the inverted pyramid style. The most important thing first, next important is second and so it continues. A reporter when placing a story will be able to cut from the bottom saving time. We are not attempting to be writers of literature. We want news coverage. (Remember too much to do, too little time.) 
  4. Keep it short. Too much copy and the editor/reporter is overwhelmed with the task of cutting it to fit.  It may be deleted before the editor/reporter reads it. 
  5. Provide eye-popping photos with clear captions written with the 5 Ws and 1 H. There is no excuse for poor photography today with digital cameras.  Take dozens to get one good shot. Clearly identify all people in photos.
  6. Send it to the right person. Send it to an editor or reporter with whom you have an established  relationship. Calendar items are different.  Send those to your calendar editors at every media outlet within your area.
  7. Thank the reporter/editor after the piece appears in print.

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