WCR Media Tool Kit
How to write a press release
By definition, news is anything out of the ordinary. Press releases are used to report news about
your WCR chapter to the general public. The first step in the process is making sure your news
will interest the general public. If not, it is best not to send a press release. Press releases need to
focus on how newspaper readers or television viewers will benefit from the information. How
does it affect their lives? Always position your news on the right side of an issue. Think like a
reporter when you are writing a press release. Ask yourself:
• If I were not a member of WCR, would this interest me?
• Is the information important to homebuyers or the public?
• Is it propaganda or straight information?
• If you were the general public, would your story portray your news in a positive light?
Stories about your new officers, attendance at important meetings, and awards your members
receive are all newsworthy. Position your members as real estate experts and important to the
• Demonstrating your commitment and interest in your community and your neighbors is a
huge asset to your chapter and your members’ businesses. Repeating a project for at least five
years will allow the public enough time to associate your chapter with the project and raise
your visibility within the community. The most effective projects are those where your
members are actually doing something for the community like painting rooms for the elderly
or teaching small children safety tips in the home.
• Partnering with well-known charitable groups is good for developing coalitions, but does not
develop a solid image for your chapter because the media will identify your project with the
better recognized name. It is good to establish your own project. Be sure the name of the
project reflects who you are so the media and public know your chapter is doing the work.
• Providing the media with information homebuyers and homeowners are interested in, such as
home buying and selling tips, is a great way of establishing your credibility. If you provide
well-written information, editors may choose to run your article as you submitted it, or they
may rewrite the information. In either case, they should credit your chapter for the article. Do
not overlook submitting articles to smaller neighborhood publications that usually have few
reporters and are often looking for well-written material. These publications reach a good
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Who should you send press releases to?
The media is overwhelmed with releases and will tend to ignore yours if you send too many or if
they are not newsworthy. To help ensure placement, send releases to the appropriate reporter or
editor covering real estate. In some cases you may want to send the same release to more than
one reporter, but only send releases to reporters who will be interested in their content.
• Real estate and home reporters and editors will generally be most interested in your news.
• Business reporters and editors will be interested in business practices.
• Business and people editors will cover stories about individuals attending conventions,
winning awards, and being elected to office.
• Lifestyle reporters and editors will be interested in community service work.
The editors of real estate magazines, trade, and business publications will also want to know
your chapter’s news. These publications generally do not have reporters assigned to specific
beats. Send releases to the editor.
Know and respect the deadlines of newspapers and magazines. Find out how far in advance they
need a release. Magazines often need releases two months before they are published. If editors
do not have your information on time, they will learn not to count on you.
Establishing a Media List
Keeping an up-to-date media list is crucial to your successful coverage. The first step is finding
the names of all the publications you want to target. The telephone directory yellow pages, your
local newsstand, and the library are all sources for finding appropriate publications.
After locating the publications, find the appropriate reporters and editors at each publication.
You may call the publication for the names; use a media directory like Bacon’s or Burrelle’s; or
use an electronic database. Check with your local library to see what resources are available.
Publication websites are also a good source. Reporters and editors change often, so you will want
to keep your list current. Maintain the following information on each reporter and editor:
• Beats Covered
• Phone Number
• Fax Number
• E-mail Address
• How the reporter prefers to receive press releases—by mail, fax, or e-mail.
If you are going to hold an event or do community service work where you would like the
media’s presence, a phone call is appropriate. Identify yourself and briefly tell your story. You
need to grab their attention within a few seconds. They will ask you to send a press release or
media alert. Don’t be disappointed if your event is not covered. The media will choose which
events is most newsworthy depending on what else is happening the same day.
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Generally, the media does not like phone calls asking if they received releases or if they have
questions. If you choose to follow up with a phone call, it is best to keep the conversation short
unless the reporter asks questions.
Writing Press Releases
News is cut from the bottom up in the editing process, so write the most important facts at the
top of the release. Simply report the news and eliminate any self-serving language. The first
paragraph should be one or two sentences that sums up what you want to say. It should answer
the questions: who, what, where, when, and why. Releases should be no more than two double-
• Include at least one quote, but no more than three, and keep them short.
• Include a brief description of your chapter at the bottom of each release.
Write a media alert when you have an event open to the public or one where you would like the
media to attend. Media alerts should generally be sent to the staff person in charge of the
calendar of events for newspapers, television and radio. If the media is invited, the alert should
also be sent to the appropriate reporter or editor.
Professional photos may be sent with releases about specific members. Snap shots are
appropriate for event coverage. Write the person’s name and title on the back of the photo.
Group shots should list each person’s name, from left to right, in the photo. The press does not
When you choose to actively pursue a relationship with the media, it is important they
understand the basic structure of your chapter and your members’ expertise. Developing a fact
sheet for your media contacts will provide this information. It is a one-page document that
clearly and concisely outlines your chapter’s identity. Copies of your fact sheet should be
available at any event the media might cover. A fact sheet includes:
• Mission statement
• Number of members
• General profile of members—who belongs
• Your officers
• Brief history—when you were established
• Areas of expertise
• List of your chapter’s accomplishments and community service work
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