Monday, October 15, 2012

Ten steps to write a press release that will get published.

Library of Congress Photographic Collection

Do you want your news release to be published in the paper?

If you have taken the time to write a press release for an event or milestone, it makes sense that you would like to get it picked up by the local, and maybe even national, media outlets. Newspapers, television and radio stations receive hundreds of requests for column space or airtime daily.
With all the competition, it’s important you set yourself apart and provide the correct information. Here are ten quick tips to write a press release that will get attention.
  1. Set the facts to paper: Who, what, where, when and how. This is the absolute minimum.
  2. Look over the above information and decide if this is newsworthy.  Ask the question, “Who cares?”  The answer must be a definable audience.
  3. Choose a couple of people to quote.  You can obtain your quotes in two ways:  The first option is to call the person and talk with her. The other option is to write a quote and ask if this quote reflects his/her opinion.  (Remember at this stage this is a press release. You can create this quote for the person, as long as he or she take ownership when it is presented.)
  4. Decide which media is appropriate for your press release. Call and let the reporter(s) know that the press release is coming. If you don’t know your local reporter, take the time to meet them.
  5. Customize the press release for each different media outlet.  Television, radio and newspaper require different writing styles.
  6. Does the story lend itself to a photograph?  Take photos showing action—not just what we call a Grip and Grin. If it is the ground breaking, have the shovel holder dig into the dirt. If it is a donation, show the work or benefit that the money will fund. Show food at a food bank or someone planting at the botanical gardens. The photo should grab people’s attention with concrete evidence.
  7. Ensure that your contact information is at the end of the press release attachment and at the end of your e-mail. Remember to include a cell phone number.  If they have any questions, you want them to connect with you.  The easier it is to finalize your press release into an article—the more likely the media will use your story. Television reporters call to schedule interviews and need no delay in contacting you.  If they have to leave a message, they might just go to the next story.
  8. Send the press release by e-mail as an attachment from your word processing document.  Make certain that you have the most recent email addresses. Your media contact list is something you should update on a regular basis.
  9. Upload your press release to your blog, website and Facebook page after the first publication in the public media. On your own pages you can include additional information and photos as support documentation.
  10. Watch for publication. Link the publication URLs to update the postings on your website, blog and organization Facebook pages. Send a thank you note to the publication.
If the press release became a story that you couldn’t recognize, see my blog post about good publicity/bad publicity.
Good luck in your future media publications! Share your experience with press releases in the comments.

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