• 5 Steps to writing an effective press release
    September 16,2014
     

    Many organizations find crafting an effective press release to be an insurmountable challenge. How do I best get the attention of a news editor? The steps below should help to make the difference between getting an editor's attention and ending up in their circular file.

    1. Find a news hook.
    Newspapers' space is valuable. Typically, editors will not “just publish” an item because it comes across the transom. The press release has to have value to the newspaper's broader audience – not just for the organization submitting it. Simply put, the news hook should be the reason you want to write the press release. Has there been an acquisition? Did someone change jobs? Is there an event coming up that the public should know about?

    2. Keep it simple.
    Newspapers are looking for information. It is their job to provide the essential answers to who, what, when, where and why. People sometimes think “more is best,” but that is not the case. It makes the most sense to give the simplest information. Don't overwrite or offer extraneous self-promotional information.
    By example:

    John Smith of Montpelier was recently named senior vice president of Apple Pie Industries in Barre. Smith, 44, will be in charge of overseeing transportation and distribution for the pie-making company. Smith has worked for Apple Pie Industries for six years. He lives on North Street with his wife, Betty, and their two children, Ronald and Baxter. Apple Pie Industries was founded in 1986 and has facilities in Barre, Boston and Hong Kong.

    Or …

    A community yard sale will be held Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the town green in Waitsfield. There is no admission to the event, which will include 65 vendors and collectors from around the community. Music will be provided by the Dead Dog Boys. Refreshments will be for sale, with all proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of America. For more information, contact Jane Doe at 555-3450 or at jdoe@internet.net.

    3. Forget all those the bells and whistles.
    Dressing up a press release with snazzy fonts, colors and flowery language is unnecessary. In fact, it often is more difficult to deal with “formatted content” when it comes to copying and pasting information if a press release is submitted online. Again, keep a press release simple. Whatever the “standard” font is on your word processor (in good old black and white) will work fine.

    4. Submit it online.
    Most newsrooms receive 90 percent of their information online these days, whether it is in forms they provide off their websites, or through email. Mailed or faxed press releases are more difficult to deal with because they take time to typeset, as well as edit and prepare for print. Cutting and pasting from an email also eliminates the risk of having typographical errors introduced into the press release, especially when there are odd spellings in names or place names. Regardless of the format in which you submit a press release, make a follow-up call to the newsroom to be certain it arrived and to determine whether the editors might need any additional information.

    5. Include contact information.
    Always. Many press releases require follow-up calls from the newsroom. Include a person, phone number and email where someone can be reached. Also, if interviews might be required, be sure to indicate who the point person will be for scheduling those meetings.

    When in doubt, always call the newspaper to find out the best email address or person you should direct your press release.

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