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This Week’s Article by
Kent Martin, Divisional President & CSE,
News Releases, Publicity and Public Relations
We’ve talked about the news release and its role in public relations in past columns here at TNNWC. Now, we’ll deconstruct a release and explain how it works and what it should accomplish.
A typical news release consists of five main parts:
- A clear and consistent message – Boil down your story into a nice and concise sentence or two, then weave it into your release. A good writer knows how to do this so your release reads easily and your message doesn’t come across like a sledgehammer. The message should be prominent in the release – whether it’s in the lead sentence or perhaps a quote – so the reader, a writer for a trade journal perhaps, is compelled to carry it forward into a story.
- A headline that makes the reader want to read the release. Too many headlines are flat recitations of the actual announcement – ABC Company Opens New Warehouse – and do nothing to encourage the reader to continue. Give me a little more in the headline. How about ABC Company Opens New Warehouse to Meet Customer Demand, or ABC Company Goes Lean and Green With New Warehouse? Now you have something worth reading.
- A lead that captures the reader’s attention and pulls him or her into the actual story. Just like a lead in a news story – and remember, you’re writing for a news audience – the first sentence or paragraph of your announcement must demonstrate why the audience should read the rest of the story. It can but does not necessarily include all of the answers to the classic reporter’s questions of who, what, where, when and why. The lead of the announcement should answer the who, what and why. Where and when can come in the second paragraph.
- A good and interesting quote. By interesting, I mean a quote that doesn’t sound contrived or worse, doesn’t repeat something already made clear in the preceding copy. Maybe the CEO is quoted saying where the new product or new technology will take the industry. This gives meaning and impact to the announcement, and this is very important. It’s the reason why the audience should care about it.
- The boilerplate, or the final paragraph that ends all news releases from the company. The boilerplate provides essential background information, such as what the company does, where’s based and how it’s distinguished from its competition. Boilerplates are useful because they let you focus on the main news in the rest of the release. If a writer hasn’t taken time to research the company, the boilerplate gives him or her some direction about the company’s background.
Then there are the technical aspects of the release to remember: Be sure the date when the announcement is made is at the top of the release as well as contact information for whomever at the company (or in some cases, the company’s PR firm) should be contacted for explanations or requests for interviews. The dateline – the very beginning of the copy that precedes the lead – should identify where the announcement is being made. If it’s a release from headquarters, then that’s the location.
Review your release and have someone else read it before you distribute it. As with all good writing, the more sets of eyes that read it, the better your chances will be that your release will be understood and best of all, picked up by the media.
I’d love to hear your company’s story. Contact me here at TNNWC.com.
Divisional President & CSE, News Releases, Publicity and Public Relations
TNNWC Group, LLC
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