More on Press Releases
BurkBrick -at- AOL -dot- COM
Mon, 27 Jun 1994 10:18:52 EDT
A few people asked for more information on press releases, and here it is.
OK, here goes - I apologize for the length, and any leftover Ventura commands
(those little buggers sneak in even after I think I've got them all out).
This is an excerpt from a textbook I started for a class I occasionally
teach, so please forgive things that seem obvious to more experienced
writers. Hope this helps anyone who has to do press releases!
News releases, or press releases, are short pieces sent to newspapers or
magazines that promote your organization. They can be on anything a new
product release, a new service, a new piece of literature, a public service
announcement, or personnel changes. They help editors provide news to their
readers and help your organization get positive news coverage.
Editors depend on getting news releases from organizations that they cover in
their publication. Most editors do not have time to keep up with all of the
latest improvements and changes in organizations. They also do not have time
to check the accuracy of the press releases. For this reason, press releases
must be accurate. This makes their jobs easier, and who doesn't look for
Writing a News Release
New releases are free publicity (except for your time in preparing them).
Newspapers and magazines get hundreds and sometimes thousands of press
releases a month. They will make no guarantees about publishing a particular
news release. The best way to insure publication of your news release is to
prepare it in their style, with no errors, and to make sure it is newsworthy.
Before writing a news release, read the type of news release you want to have
published in the publications you want to have it published in. Press
releases are generally listed as short pieces. Industry magazines usually
have a page or two of new product press releases and personnel changes. Local
newspapers will have short pieces scattered throughout the paper. When
reading the pieces, pay attention to the style, the types of things that are
said and are not said, and how long they usually are.
Determine which publication you would most like to be published in. Write the
press release in this style. Most press releases are sent to more than one
publication to insure coverage and to hit different markets. However, you do
not want to write a separate news release for each publication. Once you pick
a style, it will probably be suitable for the rest of the publications.
News releases should be written in the journalistic style. This means the
most important information is first, with information order descending to the
least important in the last paragraph. This style was developed to suit the
magazine and newspaper industries.
Editors often don't know exactly how much space they will have for a
particular article, so they want more than they think they need, but they are
likely to cut some of the article off. This often happens when they get
advertising or a late breaking news story in at the last minute. Don't put
vital information in a paragraph that is likely to get cut off!
The important information is traditional who, what, why, where, when and how
of journalism. Open a news release with this information. As with business
letters, assume the reader might not get past that first paragraph. Make sure
he or she gets the facts before he drops it.
Make sure your news release has no errors and matches the style you picked as
closely as possible. The less the editor has to work on your piece, the more
likely you are to get published. Most editors are under tight deadlines and
have busy schedules, and they might make their decisions on how fast they can
get something included, rather than on the merits of the story.
Make sure your news release contains news, not just advertising. The editor
knows you have prepared the news release for the benefit of your company, but
he or she will print it if it benefits his readers (and therefore his
advertisers). Editors usually do not include any advertising adjectives or
unsubstantiated allegations. They cannot endorse your company or claims you
make. They might print The manufacturer states that this product does this
great thing, but will not print This product does this great thing.
Consider your story as a news article, slanted from the point of view of the
readers: what does it do for them and how it does it do it.
However, many news releases include a short paragraph summarizing the work
the organization does, or mentioning other things the organization produces.
Formatting a News Release
The release should be neatly typed and double spaced on company letterhead.
Some companies have special news release letterhead; use it. Press releases
must contain the following information:
Release Date: On the right hand side of the page. Normally, the news is ready
for printing when the publication receives the release, and the words For
Immediate Release are in the upper right. If the release date is not
immediate, say so For Release June 15. Whatever you do, never
misrepresent facts or timing. If you advise an editor that your product or
service offers specific features and will available for sale on a specific
date, it better be so, or you will be on his blacklist forever. Editors guard
their reputations for accuracy; their jobs are based on their ability to
provide accurate information.
Contact Name: Put your name (or other name to contact) on the left hand side
of the page. Include a phone number (even if it is in the letterhead) and an
extension (if appropriate). The editor might need to check details, ask some
questions, or want some further elaboration on the facts you have provided.
If he or she feels the piece is really noteworthy, the editor might want to
make it into a longer article.
Heading: Most news releases include a heading that tells the editor what to
expect in the release. It should be at least two lines above the text and is
Place and Date: The first line of a press release should include the city and
state. This is normally where the organization is located. It should be
followed by two dashes or an em dash and then the date. See example for
correct format of the place and date.
30 or ###: One of these symbols should go at the end of the press release.
This tells the editor this is it so he or she knows that a page is not
missing. If you have a press release that is longer than one page, type
more at the bottom of each page before the last one.
If possible, send a photograph with your press release. Publications will
often print pictures with press release text. If it is published, it gets you
more space, and draws the readers' eye to your release.
Unless you know a publication prints color photographs, use a black and
white. Color photographs that have to be converted to black and white lose
their contrast and look muddy. Standard 5 x 7 prints are acceptable, and
less expensive than 8 x 10 prints.
If the photograph is of an item, such as a product, building, or display, get
a simple, straight on shot. Fancy lighting or odd angles will get lost if it
is published; photographs will usually be reduced to about 2 x 2 , or less.
When you mail photographs, don't forget to insert a cardboard stiffener in
the envelope. If your picture has one crease or crack, the picture cannot be
When you send a photograph, label the back with identifying information so
that if it gets separated from the press release, it can be identified.
Usually identifying information includes the organization's name, what the
picture is of, and a title matching that of the press release.
Some publications will print non news, especially if there might be
advertising dollars involved. However, to protect your organization's
reputation, you want to be sure that what you have to say is news. Some
publications have standards for what they consider to be newsworthy. If
possible, ask for those standards. Also keep an eye on the types of things
that get published by them it will give you ideas about the types of things
you can promote.
Typical newsworthy items are discussed in the following.
New (or Improved) Product or Service: Most publications have a new products
section. Whenever your organization has a new product or service, send a
press release. Emphasize that it is new or improved. In your heading, use
words like new, improved, or introducing. The things that make it new
or improved should be discussed in the opening sentence or paragraph of the
release. After this introduction, you can include other details, such as
other features and price. Before including prices, check the publications and
your organization's policy to see if price is commonly included. Service
organizations, such as police and fire departments, often do press releases
on new services to the community, such as introducing the D.A.R.E. program or
purchasing new equipment. These releases let the public know that these
programs are available and that the organization is continuing to upgrade to
better serve its community.
Grand Opening: New plants, stores, offices, and branches are all considered
newsworthy. If you are just opening a store or office, local publications as
well as industry journals will be interested. Many releases also feature
remodeled offices or substantial additions, especially if they involve an
open house or feature renowned architects or designers. In a grand opening
news release, tell the readers what's new, then tell them how it benefits
them. Is it a new travel agency that specializes in low cost cruises? Did a
laboratory expand to serve another hospital? Did city hall move to a more
convenient location? This is the type of information that can be useful to
New Look: Any change in the look of your product or service, including
uniforms or vehicles, deserves publicity. These types of releases should
include a photograph. If the new design is particularly innovative, you might
send it to packaging magazines as well as your usual publications. These
magazines will publish information on new designs that they think are of
interest to their readers, and the more publicity you can get, the better. It
is a public service to announce new uniform or vehicle designs. If people are
used to seeing professionals in a particular uniform or vehicle, they might
be confused by new ones. Let them know what the change is, and why it was
Personnel Changes: These types of releases describe a promotion or new hire.
They should state who the person is, what he or she will be doing, what he or
she will accomplish, and how the person will help the customers. You can also
include information on education, experience and family. This type of release
should be sent to his or her hometown paper as well as your regular list of
publications. This type of release should include a photograph of the
individual. Send a recent picture, not the more flattering one that's fifteen
New Literature: Many publications have a page devoted to the description of
new literature available to their readers. If you have any new booklet,
pamphlet, or catalog that is of interest to the readers of a publication,
send a release on it. Include a description of its aims, contents, and
potential value to the readers. If it is eye catching, send a photograph of
it as well.
Where to Send Press Releases
There are specialty publications for just about every field. Select the
publications you send to based on what you expect to get out of the press
release. For instance, if you want the local public to know about a new
service you offer, you would send the release to local magazines and
newspapers. You can get editor's names and mailing addresses from the
If your purpose is promoting your organization or product to a larger or more
select population, you need to get a different list. At least two sources
list every magazine and periodical in the United States and Canada according
to category. They are Bacon's Publicity Checker and Cahner's Standard Rate
and Data Book; ask your reference librarian for other possible sources. Both
of these include names, addresses, and other information that is of interest.
Both of these sources are updated often (monthly or bi monthly). Always get
the most recent copy you can, especially for magazines. Magazines change
ownership often and quickly. Make sure you have the most up to date
information, or you're just wasting your postage.
Many publications that are listed in these sources have a variety of editors
with different titles. Prefer assistant editors or plain editors. Avoid the
names on the tops of mastheads, especially production editors or managing
editors. These people are responsible for managing staff or making sure the
magazine has enough advertising. They are usually not involved in minor
Examples of Press Releases
North Coast Inc.
3333 East 120th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44444
(216) 555 4000
Press Release For: LabelExpo '90
Contact: Sam Goody
Telephone: (216) 555 4000, ext. 559
New Unit Offers Ease of Use
Cleveland, OH May 23, 1990 The microprocessor based AccuTrac H6400
Controller offers high power in a compact, low cost unit designed for both
narrow and wide web guide applications. A user friendly unit with an easy to
perform setup, the H6400 has clearly worded prompts displaeyd on a 40
character LCD display.
Most operations, such as selecting Automatic, Manual or ServoCenter control,
require only one key press. For more complex actions, including actuator
speed adjustment, detector calibration, gain, or choosing edge or center
guide, a menu display the choices. The operator never has to open the unit to
make an adjustment.
The H6400 is part of the AccuTrac system, which consists of a motorized
actuator, an intermediate guide, and photoelectric detectors. Also displayed
at these shows will be North Coast's prepositioning and width measurement
See North Coast at: Booth #99 at LabelExpo
North Coast Inc.
3333 East 120th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44444
(216) 555 4000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Susan Goodman
Telephone: (216) 555 4000, ext. 560
Ultrasonic Detector to be Displayed at CMM8
Cleveland, OH January 22, 1991 North Coast Incorporated has added an
ultrasonic detector to its web guiding control product line. The H3300
Ultrasonic Detector is not affected by passline variation a maximum control
point shift of +-0.003" is caused by a +-0.5" passline change. The guide
point shift caused by temperature is a maximum of 0.2% per degree C. The
H3300 has a 0.2" field of view and a 3" gap. It includes a quick release
cable, allowing quick installation and changes.
Ultrasonic detectors allow guiding of clear film or webs where opacity might
affect guiding accuracy. They are also used for webs such as photographic
film where optical detectors could damage the web.
The ultrasonic detector can be used with any of North Coast's
electromechanical or electro hydraulic guiding systems, which will also be
displayed at CMM8.
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