Lecture 9: Press Releases


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  • Welcome to lecture 9, writing press releases
  • Today we are going to discuss some of the qualities that make up a good press release. We’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of writing them, and we’ll get you prepared for your next homework assignment.
  • Press releases are used for a variety of reasons.
  • You will probably see a lot of ways to organize a press release that are different, but most of them include the same basic information…
  • Here is an example of how a standard press release can be formatted at the top. When you do your homework assignment, try to stick to this structure. Notice the address of the organization is in the top, lefthand corner, and my contact name and for immediate release are below it to the right. Next is the headline, which is in bold, and is not a complete sentence. It just gives a brief summary of what the release is about. Then, you have a dateline (Salisbury) in all caps, followed by the day and date that you are sending the release out. This is slightly different form journalism writing, in that you generally only include the day or date, not both. Also, note that you will still need to include the date of the event in the release itself. After a hyphen, you begin your lede and proceed forward with single-spaced paragraphs, with an extra space in between paragraphs. Please take a look at some of the examples I sent for more help with that.
  • When writing a press release, you should…
  • When you start to write your press release, you need to examine the information you have and ask yourself four questions…
  • Press releaseledes are similar to your summary news ledes in that they include a lot of the who, what, when, where, and why of the story. However, they can also be suggestive, fun, and promotional, as in this example…
  • For the body of your press release, you want to write tightly, just as you would in a hard news story. You will use one sentence ledes and 1-2 sentence graphs…
  • Within your press release, you will typically include one quote from a company source, which is provided for you. You will also end the release with your company’s mission statement, which will also be provided for you. Most press releases are no longer than one page, as journalists like their readers have short attention spans. You will want to end the release in one of three ways…
  • I have provided you with a sample prompt and an example of a press release I wrote from the prompt here. Please take a few moments to look those over and keep them handy as you write your releases.
  • Lecture 9: Press Releases

    1. 1. Press releaseshttp://cmat240summer.wordpress.com
    2. 2. objectives• Discuss the qualities of an effective press release• Nuts & bolts of press release writing• Assign homework
    3. 3. Press releases• Used by the media for story ideas • Used to communicate the newsworthiness of an item/person/event/service to the media• Used to communicate directly with the public online• Used to recruit volunteers/contributors/clients• Used to advocate
    4. 4. Format elements• Company name• Company address• Contact name• Contact number• Date of release• Date to be published (often FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE)• Headline (bold)
    5. 5. Formatting example Eastern Shore Running Club 105 W. Main St. Salisbury, MD 21801 Contact: Jennifer Cox FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Runners to fight pediatric illness at Salisbury 5K race SALISBURY, Thursday, April 12 – Begin lede here.. This is the date therelease went out, not the event day.
    6. 6. Tips for releases• Use a summary lede• Find a newsworthy angle for your lede• Give the point of the story in the headline• Relate your info to the audience• Be descriptive, fun
    7. 7. Tips for releases• Provide one quote summarizing the main point• Provide a mission statement at the end• Use bullet points for lists (when appropriate)• No more than one page
    8. 8. What makes a good release?1. How is the information newsworthy?2. Who is your audience, and why should they care?3. How will people relate to this?4. How can I write a summary lede telling people all they need to know in a creative way?
    9. 9. content• Lede: • Summary news lede • Can have some creative element/descriptive adjectives • Can be suggestive; no need for objectivityCome out and celebrate the spookiest day of the year with your favorite canine companion while raising money for local charities at the Howl in the Park at Regent Park, in Jacksonville, on Halloween afternoon, from 12-4 p.m.
    10. 10. content• Write tightly• Continue to use 1-2-sentence graphs• Use 1-sentence ledes• Include the who, what, when, where, how, and why up high• Include fun and interesting details for participants• Include one quote from a company figure• End with info about where people can go for additional information
    11. 11. ending• Company quote• Mission statement• Most press releases should be about one page • If more than one page, include (more) at the bottom of the first page, centered• End one of three ways (centered at the bottom): • xxx • -30- • ###
    12. 12. example• Sample prompt• Press release example
    13. 13. Announcements• Homework: Press release from prompt due Thursday • Exchange with peer editing partners before turning it in!• AP style quiz: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on MyClasses• Nut graph and lede due via email TODAY (participation points)• Schedule your phone conference with me for tomorrow!