Social media may be the norm today; however the traditional news release still has a valuable place as a promotional tool for small businesses, agencies, clubs, and charities.
Writing a news release is easy if you follow some simple rules. If you veer off track your release will make its way to the trash with hundreds of others.
There are people who are professionally trained in writing news releases, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write your own release. You should; however, make sure that you triple check for errors. The best approach is to have another set of eyes; maybe even two or three people who are willing to read it over before you send it out.
Before you even put a single word down on the page you have to ask yourself an important question. Is what I have to say really newsworthy? There is no point in wasting your time writing a release if it has no news value. Journalists will not give your story a single thought if it offers no real value to their audience.
Here is what makes a story newsworthy:
- The story impacts the media’s readers, listeners or viewers
- The story contains new information
- The story involves conflict or resolves a problem
- The story is unique or offers a new perspective or new information
- The story involves a famous person such as an entertainer, politician or community leader
Once you have established that your story is newsworthy, think about the headline. News releases should be written like news stories with eye-catching headlines. If you want assignment editors or journalists to read your release you have to capture their interest. If there are other releases with more intriguing headlines then your release won’t even get read.
In the first couple of paragraphs, also known as the lead, you should answer the following:
When you answer these questions you are making it easy for the journalist to understand the essence of the story quickly so he/she can move on with what is no doubt a busy day.
In this section of the news release you can include background information; tidbits that may be interesting to the journalist such as statistics or factual data that can be used to enhance the story.
The internet has opened up so many more possibilities for the news release. The viral world improves the chances that your news will reach people. Today RSS feeds, e-newletters and other social media avenues can spread your message quickly.
Including links to videos in your news release is a good way to bring your story to life. As well, it can provide busy journalists with much needed footage to tell your story. It’s all about making life easier for the journalist.
Don’t forget to include contact information at the end of your release, including the proper title, phone numbers, e-mail etc.
Don’t oversell your story it will backfire on you
- Limit your release to one page
- Post your release on your own company web-site
- Don’t call it a “Press” Release you are addressing many forms of media-it is a “News” Release.