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HOW TO WRITE NEWS RELEASES
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Every news release must have a specific purpose, be directed to a specific audience, and be part of an overall public relations plan. To ensure that your news releases reach print, follow these guidelines:
- Send the release to a specific individual. Call to find out the appropriate department (business, social, etc.) and the appropriate editor/contact. Ask about format, deadlines, and preferred method of delivery (mail, fax, e-mail, etc.).
- On your organization's letterhead, with all pages labeled as a "NEWS RELEASE":
- Provide the release date and contact information (name, title, organization, address, and phone number) so that editors can follow up if necessary.
- Type the headline in full capital letters, centered. Give the essence of the release. Avoid "creative" headlines that may annoy or confuse the editor. Stick to the subject (the product or person publicized) and the main point of the release.
- Because editors frequently shorten releases, use the pyramid formula to ensure that vital information is not cut:
- In the first section of the release, tell the recipients everything they need to know. In the next section, tell them what you would like them to know. In the final section, include good, but not vital, information.
- Lead with the best, most important information. In the first paragraph of the release, tell WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY. Save the background details for later paragraphs.
- Don't try to sell anything. Most publications won't run a news release that's full of sales hype. Avoid glowing descriptions. Eliminate blatantly self-serving hype. Let your facts prove your responsiveness to customers, attention to quality, state-of-the-art employee-friendly workplace, concern for community and environment, etc.
- Gear language to your audience. Avoid using technical jargon with non-technical readers. If necessary, attach a separate sheet or include a technical summary at the bottom of the page.
- Verify all quotations with their source. Double-check that quotations, ideally powerful statements from credible leaders, support your key message, emphasize and summarize your main point.
About the authors: Carol Klein and Sandra Nutting, founders of The Writing Center, Inc., West Chester, PA, provide training in Effective Business and Technical Writing to major corporations and organizations worldwide. For more information about our writing courses, contact us at email@example.com or call us at 610-436-4600.