Chapter 5: Writing the News Release

This chapter is all about the news(press) release. It discusses the value of news releases as the backbone of almost every publicity plan. It introduces the reader to the basic questions necessary in planning a press release. They include:

1) What is the subject of the message? What is the specific focus of this release?

2) Who is the message designed to reach?

3) What is in it for this particular audience? What are the potential benefits and rewards?

4) What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose?

5) What do you want to achieve with the news release?

6) What key messages should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific audience (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques)?

The text discusses formatting rules for press releases. They should abide by the following rules:

1)   Be double-spaced

2) Have a 2 inch margin at the top and 1.5 inch margins on the sides and bottom

3) Use 10- or 12-point standard font

4) Don’t split sentences or paragraphs between pages

5) Never hyphenate a word at the end of a line

6) Number the pages of a news release

7) Place a slug line (a short description) at the top of each page after the first one

8 ) Write “more” at the end of each page of the news release continues

9) Write one of the old journalistic terms “-30-,” “end,” or “###” at the end of the release

10) Follow AP Style (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques).

Next, the chapter covers the five basic types of news releases, which include announcements, spot announcements, reaction releases, bad news, and local news. It then addresses the parts of a traditional news release. They include a letterhead, contacts, headline, dateline, lead paragraph, and body of text (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques).

 Professor Michael Ryan of the University of Houston says a news release should have four basic paragraphs. He developed a rubric that I find helpful.

Paragraph 1

a. Most important facts of release

b. Attribution, less essential information

Paragraph 2

a. Essentail background material, names of key characters or sources, a second important element

b. Names of secondary  characters or sources

Paragraph

a. Elaboration on material in paragraph 1

b. Background material, attribution

Paragraph 4

a. Most important material in sentence

b. Background material, attribution (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques).

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