Journalists are bombarded with volumes of news releases. To improve the chances that your story will interest a journalist enough to publish it, you must make the journalist’s job easier by presenting your news release in an appealing format and style. Your news release should be written as if it were prepared by an unbiased third party. The news release should follow a standard format, which is described in the following paragraphs.
Notice of Release
The first thing the reader sees should be . . .
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
. . . unless you have sent the information in advance of the time you would like it published. In that case, state it as follows:
FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, December 12, 2010 (using the date you want it released).
Remember that no matter what date you put here, the publication can release the information before or after that date. If the news is really big, it is unlikely that the publication will hold it until the date you have specified.
The header should be in the upper-left corner. It should contain all of the contact information for one or two key people. These contacts should be able to answer any questions regarding the news release. If reporters cannot get in touch with someone to answer their questions, they might print incorrect information or even drop the article altogether.
Connex Network, Inc.
Your headline is critically important. If you get it right, it will attract the attention you are looking for. Your headline should be powerful, summarizing your message and making the reader want to continue reading. Keep the headline short—fewer than 10 words.
City and Date
Name the city you are reporting from and the date you want the news to be released.
Your first sentence within the body of the news release should sum up your headline and immediately inform the reader why this is newsworthy. With the number of news releases reporters receive, if you don’t grab their attention immediately, they won’t read your release. Begin by listing all of the most relevant information first, leaving the supporting information for later in the article.
Ask yourself the five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and answer them up front. Write the news release just as if you were writing a newspaper article for publication. Include some quotes from key individuals in your company and any other relevant, credible outside sources. If there are any statistics that support your main message, include them as well, providing references.
Your last paragraph should be a short company description.
If your release is two pages long, center the word more at the bottom of the first page. To end your release, center the word end or the symbol ### at the end of your message. A sample news release is shown in Figure 16.1.
Advantages of Interactive News Releases
Online news releases take the same standard format as offline news releases, but the online news release can be interactive, with links to a variety of interesting information that supports your message. When your news release is provided by email and you provide a hypertext link in that email, the journalist is just a click away from accessing all the information he or she needs to complete the story. Helpful links to include in your interactive news releases are:
- A link to the email address of the media contact person in your organization so that with the click of the mouse a journalist can ask
a question via email. All contact information should be provided— telephone, cell, email—so the journalist can make the contact and you can get the coverage.
- A link to the company Web site, blog, and social media accounts so that the journalist can quickly and easily access additional information as part of his or her due diligence, or can find required information.
- Links to articles that have been written about the company and related issues, both on the corporate Web site and on other sites. Don’t provide a link to the site of a magazine that has written the article; rather, get a copy of the article and place it on your own Web site to ensure a live link.
- Links to graphics, pictures, and videos for illustration. If your story relates to your product, have a link to a graphic that can be used.
Provide a link to your YouTube channel, Facebook page photos, and your Flickr photostream to provide easy access.
- Links to key corporate players, their biographies, their photos, their social media accounts, and possibly some quotes. Journalists usually include quotes in their stories.
- A link to an FAQ section where you can have frequently asked questions and a few that you wish were frequently asked.
Social Media News Releases
We are starting to see the emergence of a new social media news release that has a completely different format. Although we have not reached the point of a standard format at this point, the new format takes a very different approach
than the text; it is written as you would see it in a magazine, written in third person, with links to appropriate content for the journalist to do due diligence. See Figure 16.2 for a social media news release template developed and made available as a free download from Shift Communications.