If your business or organization has news to report or an event to promote, you have a vested interest in getting the word out effectively. Based on 25 years of writing, receiving, and editing news releases, here are a few tips for reaching your intended audience.
We’ll start with a very basic news release — something that will end up as a news brief in print or online or a short announcement on the air. How to construct a more detailed press release — one the media can actually use — will be covered later.
1. Email is the best way to submit news to media outlets; you can find email addresses on a newspaper or TV station’s website. Also look for a “Contact Us” or “Send Us Your News” link.
2. Keep it short, complete, and businesslike. If you’re announcing/promoting an event, all you need is two or three sentences.
Here’s an example of a fundraiser announcement:
The Dirty Nails Garden Club will hold its seventh annual plant sale fundraiser 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9 at Central City Park, 123 Whatever St. Several varieties of petunia, begonia and geranium plants will be available for $7.99-$12.99. For more information call (000) 000-0000 or visit http://www.dirtynails.org.
This fulfills journalism’s required four W’s and the H: Who (the garden club), what (the plant sale), when (10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9), where (Central City Park), why (fundraising for the garden club) and how (people can find out more by calling the number or visiting the website provided). Leave out one of these, and the recipient may contact you for the needed info. However, he or she may well just delete it rather than take the time.
Here’s a business example:
Acme Auto Parts Corp. will hold an open house 1-4 p.m. April 18 at its new location, 5555 Commercial Road. This is Acme’s third Fort Wayne-area location and has an expanded selection of windshield wipers. Free windshield wiper inspections will be available at the open house on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, call (000) 000-0000 or visit http://www.acmeautoparts.com.
3. Good photos catch my eye and help spark reader interest. If you have a really good photo or two from last year’s garden club sale or of the new store, include it. In the email, include the names of all people in the photo, from left to right, if you have them.
4. If you are sending your email to more than, say, two or three addresses, send the message to yourself and put all of the email addresses in the bcc field. The more people on your email list, the more important this is. Don’t make your recipient scroll down past a long list of other recipients to get to the actual message.
Coming up: Build a better press release.