By Carol W. LaGrasse
1. Include Real News
a. News includes an event or the publication of new information
(1) Examples of news
· An upcoming meeting or press conference that you are announcing
· A report that you are issuing
· Revelations in response to a freedom of information request
· Something that your organization has accomplished
· Announcement of your lawsuit or a court hearing
· The defeat of a bill or proposal that you have opposed
· An honor or grant that has been given to your organization
· An award that your organization is giving to someone
· The first, fifth, tenth, etc., anniversary of your organization
(2) Examples of non-news
· An opinion piece that is really an Op Ed
· Extraneous opinion, wordiness, and extraneous information in an otherwise acceptable press release
2. Use your official letterhead. Below that begin with:
For Immediate Release
Contact: (person's name and telephone number)
3. Keep it short
a. Press releases are generally less than one page.
b. When the press release is presented with the hope of publication as a news story, it can be two pages long.
3. Let the reader know
a. Who, what, when, where, and why
· Generally at the beginning of the release
· For meetings, consider a Media Advisory with an outline format such as:
Background: (A paragraph describing the history, issue, etc.)
b. Think of the press release as writing a short, publishable story
· The release should be a finished product that is suitable for publication, written to the same quality that any news article is written.
· It may include quotations of key people in your organization to give it life.
· It is generally more effective to put opinions in the form of quotations of the representative of the group, rather than as text.
· It you are announcing a report, include an important quotation credited to the author and the main conclusion of the report.
· Don't make the organizational mistake of bogging down a capable person in your organization who can write the press release by having a committee work on the press release together.
If applicable, include a glossy (or digital) portrait of the person that the press release is about.
· Repeat the contact person and telephone number.
· Use one of the signs: ### or - 30 -
5. Where, How, and When to Send
a. The Media List
· Compile a list of all local media and all media in the geographic range of the issue
· Add broader media if the issue, although local, has broader geographic interest.
b. How to Send
Choices depend on the resources of the organization and time frame of the news item. All are acceptable. E-mail has grown in favor and is preferred by many newspapers.
· Regular Mail
· E-mail (Do not send attachments.)
c. When to Send
If the press release is being sent to all media at once, send it early enough to allow publication in the weekly newspapers. These are widely read.
· For daily newspapers - about seven days or less before an event
· For weeklies - about ten to twelve days before an event
· For radio and TV - shortly before
If you have developed media contacts, consider telephoning them personally to let them know of your news item if you think that the press release will not be noticed by them.