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How To Write An Effective Press Release

by Monica Carter

I often draw on the experience I gained as a journalist to help clients gain media attention. I know the common mistakes of many people seeking publicity. I've seen them time and time again and have seen them cost many individuals, organizations, and businesses publicity. So I help clients avoid those problems. If you follow these few tips I share here, you will increase the likelihood of your press release being printed or producing a story idea. And isn't that what you want?

1. Don't be coy. Many people erroneously think writing press releases is about holding back information. They use cute headlines or ask questions but fail to follow up with the answer. They think leaving out the information will entice the reporter or editor to call them to find out the rest of the details. That doesn't work. More often than not, what that does is entices the reporter or editor to throw the release in the trash—or delete it from the inbox. Reporters and editors want as much information as they can get so they can evaluate the story possibilities.

2. Answer the basics. I've been both a reporter and an editor, and I was—at first—surprised at the number of news releases that came across my desk that did not include the basic information. Make sure yours includes the who, what, when, where, why, and—if appropriate—how. Also, include your contact info, or the contact info of whoever can answer the reporter's questions.

3. Be timely. Send your news release two to three weeks ahead of the time it needs to run. This gives the reporter or editor time to plan coverage, if appropriate. But don't send the release too far in advance—it will likely get lost.

4. Follow up. It's OK to give the reporter or editor a call to see if he or she has any questions. The old adage is true in this case: the squeaky wheel gets the oil. While there is no guarantee that a follow-up call will net your story in the paper, there is a greater chance of this happening than if you don't. Of course, if your idea is lame, no amount of calling can help. Which brings us to point number five:

5. Be interesting. You don't have to be the best writer when you put together your release, but you do need to make it interesting. Detail why people in the news organization's coverage area will care about this piece of information. Show the impact. Show the relevance.

If you follow these tips, you will see an increase in the number of your news releases that find their way into the pages of your local newspaper or even turn into a full fledged story! Getting into the newspaper isn't a mystery, but it does take a bit of planning and knowledge.

 

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Monday, 18 Dec 2017 07:49 AM

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