Know the basics

A great reminder from Frause:

One of the most important tools in public relations is the press or news release. This important document is structured in such a way that allows a public relations or communications professional to send off an announcement to the media and a reporter or editor can quickly scan the document, much like a news article, for needed information.

There are several key components to writing a news release, and there are some great examples in the Frause newsroom.

  1. Headline: This should be the sentence, written in an active voice with as few prepositions as possible, which catches the reader’s attention and briefly states what the main announcement is: think of who, what, where, how, when, and why.
  2. Byline: Sometimes optional, and much like in a news story when used, the byline is another attention-grabbing sentence that gives more detail and elaborates on the headline.
  3. Dateline: In AP Style, which is the standard style for writing news releases in much of the United States, the dateline consists of the city and state or country, depending on what AP Style dictates, followed by the date. This is essential to the news release and cannot be left out.
  4. The announcement: Written in the traditional inverted pyramid, the release should be brief but contain all the vital facts presented in a clear, concise, easy-to-read format much like how news stories are written. Often there is a paragraph with a quote from a spokesperson.
  5. Boiler plate: This is basic information about the company or organization that goes after the end of the news release. A company may put out multiple news releases but will use the same boiler plate.
  6. Contact information: There should be a media contact with a name, phone number and email address so that media with questions can contact this person.

Besides the basic components, there are some other important considerations, including language use, links and photos, and how strategically to write the release to make it interesting. Some professionals are even arguing now against the use of inverted pyramid style, which was invented for the telegraph, and for a return to more feature-style writing. There are some great tips on PR Newswire for the press release template and optimizing press release content. Just remember that format, accuracy and proofreading are imperative.

Olivia says, “I am very much a fan of feature-style writing.”
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