Publicity & Promotion: Press Release Writing
Press releases are a vital part of informing the community and the campus about events, are low in cost, and reach a large audience. Most reporters prefer to have information provided to them in writing, even if they have been contacted by telephone. The following points are important to keep in mind when producing a press release:
1. Provide complete information. Start with the basics: who, what, when, where, why and how. This information should be placed in the first paragraph of the story. Make sure dates and times are correct. Specify a.m. or p.m. Do not editorialize. You can express other people's opinions through quotes.
2. Check and observe deadlines. Obtain specific deadline schedules and keep to it. Most news releases need to be mailed at least one to two weeks prior to the event. If the story is timely, make sure all information is provided in advance.
3. Make it local. Local news media are not receptive to information that comes from sources outside the community. Put the organization's name or one of its member's names prominently in the story (usually first or second paragraph). Make sure all the information is factual and easy to read.
4. Have one spokesperson. Assign one person's name to be used on all related press releases. That one person will be the official media relations or information officer for the organization.
5. Ask questions. If you are unsure about what the procedures are or what information the newspaper or news station requires, call and ask.
6. Be objective. If you believe your news has been treated unfairly, tell the reporter. If you still have a complaint, write a letter to the editor or station manager telling the true side of the situation. Be sure to stick to the facts and not make it opinionated. It is also a good idea to write the editor or station manager if the reporter does a good job. A letter of appreciation will help you with further publicity for your organization.
7. Provide information regularly. If you are the source of news and information for your organization, then it is up to you to provide the media with what your organization is doing. Reporters will come to depend on you for timely, accurate information.