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Subject:Writing press releases From:Mindy Kale <gpscom!mkale -at- PLAINS -dot- NODAK -dot- EDU> Date:Wed, 22 Jun 1994 16:48:47 LCL
Writing press releases is not really as intimidating as Donna makes it sound.
I've found that many or most reporters (at least the local press in my home
town) are generally lazy and will let you do all the work for them. They'll
often print exactly what you include in your press release, just giving it an
edit. Also, the press tends to be favorable to businesses unless they're
involved in something controvercial or they have some reason not to be. Because
of this, just include the information you want them to know. Start with the
interesting and new--the reason you're writing the press release. Then at the
end, add background information about your company--how long it's been in
business, annual sales, anything unusual or interesting about it. The more
information you provide them, the less they have to dig up on their own, and the
more control you'll have over the coverage you receive.
Also, be sure to print the release on company letterhead, and at the very top
include the line FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT with the name and phone number of
the company representative responsible for dealing with the press or in charge
of the project. Then make sure this person is available to answer press
questions. If the person is not available immediately when a press person calls,
be sure he returns the call immediately. Reporters live under deadlines even
more pressing than technical writers, and the quickest way to get bad or unfair
coverage is to not be available to talk to reporters.
After the contact person and before the body of the press release, include the
line, AVAILABLE FOR PUBLICATION ON or DO NOT PUBLISH BEFORE and the date you
want the information to appear in the media. Ideally, this should be the date
you you expect the media to receive the press release. DO NOT send information
to the press before it is ok for them to print it. For example, if you're
waiting for a major contract to be signed, don't send out the press release in
advance and expect them to not print the info before the date on the press
release. Reporters, especially for national publications and local TV stations,
are very competitive about getting a story first.
Include any photographs, art work, or contact people you would like to have
included in the story. For example, include a good black and white mug shot of
the company president for print media, and a list of names and phone numbers of
people who have used the product and you know will give you good comments.
Again, the more you can do for the reporters, the less they'll need to do
If you want the press to cover an event and the press release is simply an
announcement that it is going to occur, give them plenty of advance notice and
tell them exactly what to expect. Also, try to pique their interest by
explaining why it is unique or important. This is especially important in
technical fields, because many reporters don't understand technology or techy
Finally, the kind of press your company receives depends on the way you treat
the press. Send the press release directly to the news director or section
editor in charge. Call the news director first to alert him/her to the
information so he can plan time or space for it. Send personal invitations to
the media if you want them to attend an event, serve them food, provide a press
kit with info about your company they can take back to work with them, and
follow up with a personal thank you note. Again, always have someone available
to answer questions, preferably someone skilled at formulating the 30-second
Great Plains Software
mkale @ gps.com