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Drafting a Press Release

Tue, 01 January 2002

Before starting to write a press release, consider what the news story actually is, and from what angle it should be approached to make it most dynamic.
Then, when you begin to draft the release, pay a lot of attention to the headline and first paragraph. If these don't grab the attention of the journalist or the reader all the other information will be wasted.
The following points may help you to develop an effective press release:
  • Make sure your subject is newsworthy;
  • Give it a sense of immediacy;
  • Present the essential facts in the first paragraph - especially the Who and What;
  • Cover Where, Why, and When in the next few paragraphs;
  • Editors delete paragraphs from the bottom up, so it is important to get the main points over in the first few sentences;
  • Use plain, concise, clear language - avoid jargon;
  • Use an eye-catching headline;
  • Use quotes to reinforce the messages, but use them sparingly. This offers a further branding opportunity for sponsors to get a mention, providing the quote adds to the impact of the story; and
  • Always follow-up your news release with a phone call.
Please remember that many press releases are not used because the central idea is flimsy and unimportant. It puffs up an organisation or sponsor, but has no benefit for the reader, viewer, or listener. The media is there to provide a service for readers / listeners, not for those featured in their columns or during their air-time.
Tips for Press Release writing:
  1. Date your release so that the editor knows it is current news.
  2. Avoid using jargon and abbreviations.
  3. Focus on essential information - keep your release short and to the point.
  4. Include contact details (possibly including a home phone number) for someone who can be contacted by the media for more information. This person should be fully briefed on the subject. Contact details are often a section called 'Notes to Editors'.
  5. Only issue an embargo on a release if you need to. However, used in the right place, they can be helpful if the story needs advance work to be done by the journalist.
  6. Include a quote in your release from a named person - newspapers like this.

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