The news release is one of the basic tools in every public relations effort. This one or two page outreach to the media is one of your most cost efficient means of getting your message across to your marketplace.
Editors find hundreds of news releases in their mailbox or electronic inbox every week. So, how do you make your release stand out from the others? The following lists 12 key points to include in a news release for the editor’s convenience and to spark interest.
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1. Use the opening paragraph to grab the reader’s attention. Determine the most interesting answer to the following questions: Why would your target market want to read or hear about your organization? What’s unique about your organization? Has an event happened recently that highlights your message? How can you use that event to grab interest? Has a specific publication or TV program covered an issue that affects your group? Once you’ve determined your answer, spell it out for the editors. Don’t assume that they get the importance.
2. Indicate your group’s contact person, address, and phone number. If the editors have questions for an in-depth story, tell them who can give additional details.
3. Suggest a headline for the article. Besides proving helpful to the editor, the headline serves as a means to encapsulate the text’s main points.
4. Open with a strong lead or statement to grab a reader’s attention. The trend in feature writing today is to include a story about a person affected by an issue. For example, the release for an agency dealing with substance abuse might include a success story about someone who overcame an addiction and how the agency helped.
5. Remember the five W’s and H-who, what, when, where, why and how. Which of these items should receive top priority? Your answer should be placed as close to the top of the copy as possible.
6. Use short sentences, action verbs, and short paragraphs as much as possible.
7. Send the release to the right person. That person is the one who makes the decision about what is printed or broadcast.
8. Be objective. Do not hype your efforts or become flowery with your praise.
9. Include good quotes from your staff members or people associated with your group or cause.
10. Keep the release short. Send no more than two, double-spaced pages. The double-spaced format allows editors to indicate additions or corrections easily.
11. Be persistent. Editors do not always keep releases on file. If they do not publish your release within an allotted time frame, send it to them again.
12. End your release with the symbol ###, which is a standardized notation indicating “the end.”