News release 101

I was pretty impressed today with my PR class. We were asked to remember everything we knew about how to structurally write a news release, and we came up with a pretty long list. Having not written a release since last semester I surprised that we remembered as much as we did. We then applied this list to study product news releases students found online. We learned the basic structure to writing product releases, bu when we applied that knowledge to what we had brought in there were very few similarities.

I find that often in class we learn something and then find it is done differently among PR professionals. Do people just forget how to write a release? I know that I forgot in just a semester time. So to help me remember, I found this site from the Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) that gives some excellent details on how to write a release. They suggest the follow format:

Headline – Be creative. One sentence. Use proper title case, capitalizing every word except for the following articles: of, it, the, a, an, from, and, is, by …

City, State (PRWEB) Month Day, Year — Grab their attention here. A strong introductory paragraph should cover who, what, when, where, why and how.

Put the body of your press release here. Expound on the information provided in your introductory paragraph. Include quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts.

The body of your press release should contain more than one paragraph. The final paragraph should restate and summarize the key points of your news release.

For additional information (or sample, copy or demo), contact: (include contact information here)

You can include details on product availability, trademark acknowledgment here.

About XYZ Company
Include a short corporate backgrounder.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Contact Person
XYZ Company
555-555-5555
555-555-4444
http://www.YourWebAddress.com (if applicable)
NOTE: Do not include e-mail address here. We have a special place for your e-mail address.

Include safe harbor statement (if applicable).

I definetly recommend the site for anyone wanting to get back to the basics of writing a news release. There is tips on formatting, editing and content. Check it out, How to write a press release.

Also, is it news release or press release? What’s your preference?

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About ramsayramsay

I am a 24 year old public relations student at Centennial College and have a degree from Brock University in communications. I love to read, travel and spend time with friends and family. I enjoy writing am excited to share my thoughts on PR, social media and everyday life.

Posted on February 11, 2008, in public relations, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous how many organizations stray so far from what we’ve learned as “correct.” Or should it be “preferred”? It’s going to be difficult for me to stick to someone else’s guns when I enter the real world after having so many details (CP style!) drilled into my head.

    But, Meg, I 100 per cent disagree with this sentence: “Use proper title case, capitalizing every word except for the following articles: of, it, the, a, an, from, and, is, by …” We learned not to do this. A headline should be written like any other sentence—capitalizing the first letter of the first word and proper nouns only. That makes sense to me because that’s the way most newspapers write headlines. And, we are, after all, trying to make journalists’ lives easier by providing them with material they needn’t change if they don’t want to. This is a perk for us, as well, of course! : )

    Finally, I pick news release over press release. Like Gary taught us many moons ago, press tends to refer to print only. We’re trying to reach a wider scope than that.

  2. Rayanne, I agree with you and when I read that sentence I was also a little confused. However, I went on CNW to get a general idea of what format PR professionals are following, and there was examples of both. Even in looking at the examples Christine gave us, one used capitals and the other did not. So maybe its just a personal/agency preference. I think I’ll just stick with the way we were taught though.

  3. I prefer press release over news release for one simple reason. Far more people search on some form of the keyword phrase “press release” versus “news release.” (I worked in newsrooms for 22 years).

    As for journalists, they don’t much crae what you call it. As long as it’s interesting, short, and filled with all the information they need if they want to use it.

    Your readers might want to know about a free email tutorial I’ve created on how to write press releases and distribute them online. It’s called “89 ways to write powerful press releases” and you can opt into the course at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips.htm.

    It’s a long course, but stick with it. By the time you’re done, you’ll understand more about press releases than most PR peopel do.

  4. Brilliant post, Megan! Delighted to read that you’ve taken what we started with in PR Writing 2 class and extended the information. That’s solid learning, and, thanks for the additional information and tips.

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