Unless you have a member of your group who’s well versed in public relations practices, most campus organizations are fairly clueless when it comes to publicizing an event. Building a media list, properly distributing a news release and handling press are all skills that have to be learned. However, before any of those things happen, you have to know HOW to write a press release. Perhaps the most basic, yet one of the most important skills, a PR practitioner needs is the ability to write an efficient news release. While everyone has their own method for writing a release, there are a few basics that can be helpful when you’re just starting out.
-Include contact info, the words ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’ and what organization you’re from. This info should all appear at the top of the release. It’s important to not forget these basics so journalists know what they’re dealing with.
-Headline, subhead, boiler plate, date line. Not sure what these terms mean? Google them. You’ll need to include each in your news release, and put them in the proper place. The headline comes first, then subhead. The dateline comes immediately before the text begins and the boiler plate appears at the bottom of the news release, as they very last section.
-Lead, text, recap. Your lead needs to be catchy and unique. Journalists get hundreds of news releases each day, so make sure yours stands out! The text includes all the details, and further information about your event. The recap comes last, and is fairly self explanatory.
-Timing is, as always, everything. Don’t put out your release late in the day, right before a weekend, or right before you go out of town. Keep in mind when you release is most likely to get seen in a journalist’s inbox.
-Follow up! Just because you sent your press release over email doesn’t mean that’s the only contact medium you can use. Call people! Later in the day, after you’ve sent your release, give your contact a call to see if they have any further questions, or needs interview information. Don’t be pushy, be helpful.
-EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Make sure you double and triple check your release, and have someone else look it over before you send it out. If you have even one error, it not only reduces your credibility but can leave journalists with potentially incorrect information. Edit until you’re blue in the face!
News releases take practice, but being able to write a good one is an invaluable skill that you’ll need if you want anyone to know about, or attend, your event or speaker.