News Release Guidelines
A News Release purports to report on an event or occurrence by a third party. Even when writing a News Release about your own busines or event, be a reporter and report on your business or event. Therefore, you must report in the “third person.”
Third Person Example: “According to John Doe, the next version of Webster’s Dictionary will include two new slang terms that were identified in his research as being part of …”.
Inappropriate Example: “I, John Doe, was informed that the next version of Webster’s Dictionary will include two new slang terms that I identified in my research as being part of …”
News releases are most effective when they are under 500 words, generally two to three paragraphs, preceded by a short, clear and attention grabbing headline.
The following is a generic press release format. Remember, this content is intended to be use by the media, so be accurate and reasonable detailed.
Begin with the text immediately below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Be creative and keep it to one sentence. Capitalize the first letter of all words but do not use all upper case letters. Exclamation marks (“!”) conveys that your release is advertising, not news, and it’s the credibility of news that generates the good publicity.
Physical Location (country, state, city), Month, Day, Year - Begin with a strong introductory paragraph that captures the reader’s attention and contains the information most relevant to your message such as the “Five W's” of (W)ho, (W)hat, (W)hen, (W)here, and (W)hy, when applicable. This paragraph should summarize the News Release such that if it were the only part seen by a reader, it would tell your entire message, and it should include a hook to get your audience interested in reading more.
Paragraph 2, 3, 4, …
These paragraphs should contain more detailed important information, and make up the body of the release. Pick up with the information provided in your first paragraph, including quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts. Make sure you use correct grammar so as not to affect your credibility negatively.
As for content, make sure to keep in mind that you are writing a News Release to grab the attention of the media. It is very important to maintain factual accuracy, make sure you are cleared to use quotes or information about businesses, and most importantly have an angle that will appeal to journalists (often by connecting your release to current events or issues). Effective releases usually utilize a strategy known as the inverted pyramid, which is written with the most important information and quotes first.
Try to keep the News Release to fewer than 500 words total. Remember, succinct and to the point works best.
The body of your release can be more than one paragraph. The final paragraph should restate and summarize the key points of your release.
Include contact information about the release (name, title, email, telephone, etc.) Make sure it is the person who can answer questions about the release.
End with these characters immediately below
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