When figuring out how a press release works, it’s probably a good idea to first know exactly what a press release is. A press release is a short, captivating news story that is written and sent to targeted members of the media. The goal of a press release is to catch the interest of a journalist or publication. The press release should contain all the essential information (who? what? where? when? how? and most importantly why?) so that the journalist can easily produce their own story from the information you have given them. Press releases are also an effective way to communicate information about upcoming events or important news.
Now that we know what a press release is, you may be wonder, why do I need one? A press release could help you in a number of ways. It can:
*Announce an event, schedule, study, campaign, workshop, or election of new leaders
*Tell people why you think this development is news
*Show your perspective on the development
*Increase the visibility of your leaders (if quoted in the release)
*Remind people of what your group does and how active in the community you are
*Allow you to highlight or summarize a report
As you can see there are many different reasons for writing a press release. Your reason will be individually catered to the needs of your business and what information you are trying to get out and share with those around you in your community. A few different ideas for what a press release can be about are:
*News of upcoming public events
*Reports of recent public events
*Reports of organizational changes that may be of interest to the general public
*Reports of awards, prizes, grants or publications connected with your cause
* Reports of hiring or promotions of staff members, particularly top managers
*Announcements of recruiting drives for volunteers
*Announcement of the start-up of your next season of classes, training sessions, services, etc.
When writing your release, there are some things to keep in mind while preparing so that it can truly be successful.
- Keep It Short: Your press release should be one page or less. You need to give just enough information that if the reporter who sees your release wants more information they will contact you for more.
- Keep It Relevant: You need to know the type of content that the reporter writes about before you send your release to them. If you send releases on topics that they don’t normally write about, they will toss your release and never even look at it. You need to make sure you are sending your releases to someone that will want to take your story and run with it.
- Include White Space: One page might not seem like enough space to get your message across and get all your information written down. Use at least half-inch margins and 10 point font, nothing smaller. Make sure there are spaces between paragraphs, headlines, etc. Ideally, the release should take only a glance to discern what it is about. Journalists don’t want to have to use a magnifying glass to read your 6 point font!
- Use a Descriptive Subject Line: Your subject line needs to be catchy and descriptive. This typically is the first thing that will be read, and most journalists will base whether or not they want to write an article about a press release on the subject line. It needs to grab their attention, but also remember it needs to be relevant.
Once your press release is written and turned in to whatever media outlet you have decided to turn it into, then the waiting game happens. You will wait until someone reads your release, and decided that they want to write about what you have submitted. You might get a call from the journalist, or a reporter, who wants to cover your situation and needs more information. At this time you would possibly have an interview and then the journalist or reporter would write the whole story and publish it. Your story might be published in a newspaper, online or even on air! The main purpose is to get your information out to the public. So when your press release is finished, ask yourself three questions; Is your release compelling to you, would a reporter find it compelling, and is this the type of thing reporters generally cover? If the answers is no to either of the three, you might need to rethink your approach.