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by Joel N. Sussman
|Cardinal Rules of Press Release Writing
As in any type of marketing, presentation and image can make a big difference in the quality of the results produced. Here are a dozen guidelines for putting your best foot forward with the media.
1) In the headline and the body of the release, emphasize the news value of your story. If it fails to catch an editor's attention or sounds remotely like an ad, the odds of it being published or broadcast are slim.
2) It will have more of an impact if the first paragraph contains the most important information, with the rest of the material arranged in order of descending importance.
3) One simple, but useful guideline for writing a press release is the old journalism standard of focusing on the five "W's", namely: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and sometimes, How?
4) Write it from the perspective of an objective observer, not from the point of view of a business owner or manager
5) Avoid long rambling sentences and use double spacing between paragraphs.
6) The last paragraph should be reserved for a brief bio or a few boilerplate sentences about your company. Journalists know to look there for that information.
7) One page is the ideal length for a press release. The media will call or email you if they have questions or want to interview you.
8) Formatting elements: After the headline at the top, the following information is generally inserted: the words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE", one or two contact names and phone numbers, and, right before the first sentence of the release, the location and date of the news story.
9) Maintain an up-to-date mailing list of reporters and editors, and get to know them, whenever possible. Jot down a few notes about each one.
10)First Step to a TV Interview: In addition to distributing press releases online, make it a point to suggest article ideas to editors, reporters, and bloggers, and let it be known that you're available for interviews. IDEA: One way to establish a reputation as a valuable resource for the media is by preparing for them a printed list of experts, spokespeople, and authorities on topics related to your profession or industry (and don't forget to include yourself prominently on that list).
11) Emailing tip: Reporters and editors intensely dislike email attachments, as a rule. Get around that by including the press release in the body of the email.
12) Perhaps the most important consideration when working with the media is that they're always under an impending deadline, especially at daily newspapers and broadcast news departments. Among the worst violations of media etiquette is not returning phone calls promptly and requesting the chance to review articles prior to publication.
Proven PR Strategies
Opportunities to Send Press Releases
Countless opportunities to send out press releases and receive valuable, free publicity get missed every day. There are literally dozens of newsworthy opportunities for getting positive media exposure, including mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, office expansions, new employees, awards, workshops, speaking engagements, fund-raising campaigns, lobbying activities, the launch of a new web site, announcing survey results, sponsorships, or taking a public position on an industry-related issue. Business milestones are often a good reason to issue a press release, such as the grand opening of a new office or announcing a business's 25th anniversary.
The bottom line is that being written about (or broadcast) in the media conveys more credibility than messages communicated through paid advertising; and it can be a vital element of any integrated marketing campaign. Although 'Familiarity breeds contempt', according to Aesop, the ancient Greek fable writer, one area in which that usually doesn't hold true is modern public relations and marketing. With few exceptions, the more ways people hear about you, the better.
Copyright 2011 Optimal Marketing Communications