PUBLIC RELATIONS/PRESS RELEASE
Listed below is information about writing the different types of releases:
MEDIA ALERT (SAMPLE)
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, December 14, 2010-10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Convention Center, 455 Grand Ave.
WHO: Mike Jones, President, Meeting Planners
TOPIC: Washington's largest convention coming to town
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Press pass available. Photo opportunity. Meeting Planners is the largest meeting planner association in the country.
PRESS RELEASE (SAMPLE)
The press release starts the same as the "media alert," then expands upon the what, when, where, who, and topic. Bold the key information throughout the copy.
CALENDAR ITEM (SAMPLE)
WHAT: Cajun Cooking Seminar
WHEN: Wednesday, December 14, 2010-10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Cajun Restaurant, 252 Pacific Road
WHO: Donald Smith, Chef, Cajun Restaurant
COST: $16 per person, senior citizens $8
REGISTRATION: Space limited to 25 people. Pre-registration is required. Registration deadline is December 5, 2012.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Don Smith is a world renowned Cajun Chef who is sharing his secrets to preparing the hottest food in town.
The calendar continues expanding upon the what, when, where, who, and cost. Bold the key information throughout the copy.
HOW TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE
A Press Release is one of the more effective advertising mediums. Press stories are usually presented in the paper, on television or radio, and in trade publications because what you are offering is of special interest to the audience or readership. A press release should be sent out for a variety of reasons, including: a grand opening, a new office site, a special event, a new product, or other exciting news.
Public relations can be like Russian roulette; sometimes you get the coverage and other times you don't. But always send a press release, whether or not you think your event is newsworthy. At current costs, a year's worth of releases can be sent out for the price of a week's worth of advertising. If the newspaper or television station needs a last-minute story, it may publish your release verbatim--or ask to do a story the day of the event.
- You have to be creative in order to get attention. Larger, more public events and happenings will always take priority over a smaller event. When possible, try not to let your event conflict with other significant occasions.
- You cannot predict disaster or national news stories, but these can happen. Even stories that are already planned and written may be bumped.
- When you send your press releases may determine whether you will receive exposure before or after the event. You may simply send information about the event, or you can invite the press to a press party or to the actual event for coverage. If you want press after the event, as well as before, send out a follow-up release with photos.
- Press Releases should be sent well in advance of the event, anywhere from two weeks to a month. Call the media ahead of time for information about their deadlines and contact people. Larger newspapers may have more than one contact person, perhaps both a "features" editor and a calendar editor. Be sure to send your release to both. Call to confirm that the release was received and then follow-up with enthusiasm about the event, to see if you can answer any questions or provide any additional information.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
- The more information you collect (facts, figures, interesting points, etc.) the easier it will be to write an effective press release.
- Media list: There are hundreds of newspapers, radio and television stations, and trade publications (a listing of all local media is located in the following pages). You can send press information to all of them, or just a selected list. Email distribution of press releases is now perfectly acceptable, along with digital photographs. Make sure to keep this list for future use. (Note: Always update and call down the media list prior to using--updates are recommended every six months.)
- During this call-down, confirm which department or editor your information should be sent to. You can develop an ongoing relationship with these people for future events and happenings.
- When the press arrives at an event, provide a fact sheet for reporters to take back to their offices. The best fact sheets include details surrounding the event, information about the organization and any keynote speakers or celebrities, as well as the event's goals.
- Don't overlook smaller newspapers. Send press releases to weekly and specialty newspapers as well as the prominent daily papers. You're much more likely to get press there.
- Invite editors or reporters to events in writing, and call to ask if they will be able to attend.
FEATURES OF A SUPERIOR PRESS RELEASE
- Provide all basic information: Press releases often lack contact names, telephone numbers, or other essentials. Reporters are busy people who cannot take the trouble to do your work for you. Unclear or incomplete releases will probably be ignored.
- Includes photos: A creative photo will give your release an edge over competing releases. Consider suggesting captions for photos. Always send the information necessary for photo credits.
- Indicate a willingness to assist with interviews and photo opportunities at your event.
- Offers admission passes for reporters; media seldom pay to cover any but the most significant events.
- Include some brief background information about your company or organization. Reporters may not be familiar with your history and will appreciate knowing where the action is.
WRITING AND DEVELOPING
- Creative writing is a must.
- Try to write the press release in a journalistic manner (no first person). Utilize quotes, but avoid any unnecessary hype. Remember to send photos with the story. If written well, the press release will sometimes be published word-for-word.
- While you need to make it interesting, remember to also keep it brief and to the facts; make sure facts are accurate and specific.
- Creative angle to a press release: insert a sample of the product or a photo. Consider a fun and creative format with special paper or ink, mounting on foam core, etc.
- Format for the press release is listed on the previous page.
- Note: If your event does not have convenient parking available, make special arrangements for "Press Parking."