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9 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Press Releases

June 22, 2016
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Press releases exist as a way to announce newsworthy information to media channels. As public relations professionals, it is important to construct clear, meaningful and direct releases that inform audiences about relevant information.

News releases are subject to the mercy of an outside party, such as a journalist, in order to receive coverage. In order to increase the chances of earning coverage for your clients or company, consider the following during construction:

First off, don’t forget the 5 basics:

  1. Who is the news release pertaining to? A company, an individual or a product? Who will the release affect directly or indirectly? Who benefits from the news covered? Who suffers?
  2. What will occur? What makes this press release worth the time investment to write or read about? What is the purpose of informing the media?
  3. Where is the location the news release is written about? Is the location relevant?
  4. When? Pay attention to the timing. Will the timing hurt, help or not affect the present social, political or economic climate?
  5. Why is the news release important? How will it stand a chance to make it past the scanning eyes of a media professional and onto the level of news?

These are the bones of a press release. In order to have a strong body, a press release needs to have strong bones. By brainstorming these 5 basic ideas, you will gain a starting point for your news release.

Do be brief and concise.

The first paragraph should be no more than three sentences max. Use the inverted pyramid model with the most important information at the top. This will help create a seamless press release.

Do remember that you are writing for a target audience.

The target audience should care about what a press release conveys. Writing style is important. A press release should be written differently to appeal to culinary magazines than if it were geared toward food truck companies. Gauge the amount of knowledge the target audience would typically have about the organization and use it to your advantage.

Don’t use slang, unpopular jargon, or complicated acronyms.

A press release should be professional, grammatically appropriate and easy to navigate. Avoid using unconventional language that could misrepresent a company or the conveyed message.

Do assess the newsworthiness of a release.

New releases should be meaningful to the intended audience in order to vie for coverage at the news desk. If it isn’t important for the targeted audience, then it might not be worthy of additional attention. A press release should spark human interest and cause people to want to pay attention or participate mentally in the release information. That is newsworthiness.

Don’t over complicate the news release.

Stick to the least amount of paragraphs needed to get the information across. It is not expected that people will read an entire news release and it is an effective strategy to not bombard a release with fluff. Keep it tight.

Do end the news release by tying up loose threads.

Double check the release to make sure it has the right information. There is no shame in having an extra set of eyes check your work.

Don’t forget to include your company website, social media outlets, address and phone number.

This information should be a given, but mistakes do happen. The media sources need to access contact information conveniently. Do not make someone search for a media contact.

Do include a quote.

News releases are meant to be a packaged story for journalists. Make it easy for a reporter to cover your news release by including direct quote from a person at the company. This saves journalist’s time since they don’t have to contact sources and arrange interviews to get a quote.

Once the news release is complete, it should be sent out to the appropriate media channels. It will do no good to send a news release about a Minnesota company’s grand opening to a Texas newspaper. Research the news outlets and media contacts that your company would like to target. Look to the local press. People love locality. Industry and consumer news sources that the release pertains to are also great outlets to receive more coverage.

 

 

Featured image photo cred: Kenny Louie

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