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PUBLIC RELATIONS WRITING: 10 Tips to Writing a Winning News Release

Writing a news release isn''t brain surgery, but it''s not mindless. There are numerous unwritten rules you should consider. Is your news timely, unusual, impactful and interesting? If not, you probably should not be considering a news release. If your answer to the question, "Why should anyone care?" can''t truthfully be answered with, "Because it effects their lives in a way nothing ever has," then you probably should put your news release on hold.

A good news release does the following:

  1. It answers all of the "W" questions: who, what, where, when and why. This provides the media with useful information about your organization, product, service or event.
  2. It tells your story right off the bat, because you can''t depend on the reader lasting beyond your headline and first paragraph.
  3. It sticks to the facts. If your news release contains even a hint of embellishment, it would be a wise to wait until you have more substantial news to announce. Journalists are naturally skeptical and have little patience for being played. If your story sounds too good to be true, you jeopardize your own credibility. And while you''re at it, change all you exclamation points to simple periods. There is no better way to destroy your credibility than to include a bunch of hype.
  4. It ties your news to current events, when appropriate. Earlier this year, we issued a release on behal of Houston Landscapes Unlimited, announcing the start of their work on beautification efforts in advance of the Super Bowl. The reason the media ate it up? We issued the release on the morning of Friday, January 2nd -- a quiet news day when we knew we would face little competition.
  5. It reminds readers of Ernest Hemingway. Okay, maybe that''s asking too much, but if you can tell your story with fewer words, do it. Wordiness distracts from your story. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives, flowery language, or redundant expressions.
  6. It is written in an active voice. News doesn''t happen to you, you cause the news to happen.
  7. It only uses ordinary language. Remember that jargon is language specific to certain professions or groups and can alienate the general readership. That said, a limited amount of jargon may be required if your goal is to optimize your news release for online search engines.
  8. It strengthens alliances. Secure written permission before including information or quotes from employees or affiliates of other companies or organizations. Companies are protective about their reputation and you may unintentionally make an enemy if you don''t follow proper channels.
  9. It includes a boilerplate. Your press release should end with a short paragraph that describes your company, products, service and a short company history. When filing a joint press release, include a boilerplate for each company.
  10. It has a purpose. It is to reach your particular target audience with your message. The release should not attempt to sell your product or service. If your news release reads like an advertisement, start over.

DPK Public Relations helps organizations throughout Texas and the Southwest increase visibility and strengthen relationships with the media. Contact us at dan@keeneypr.com or call 832-467-2904.

Dan Keeney
(832) 467-2904
(832) 467-2909
Author: Dan Keeney
Phone: (832) 467-2904
Fax: (832) 467-2909
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