Tips on Writing a Press Release
Reporters and editors are flooded with media releases daily because they are the most common way to get news to them. Tips to remember for writing an effective media release:
- Type on letterhead with the date of issue citing "For Immediate Release" or "For Release [date]" in the upper left-hand corner.
- Include the name and phone number of the chapter adviser or chapter media spokesperson in the upper right-hand corner. To make it easier for reporters to contact them, include the home as well as the school phone number. You may also include a mobile telephone number and e-mail contact address.
- Remember the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
- Use a dateline to begin the first paragraph (i.e. Jefferson, Va).
- A good headline will grab a reporter's attention. Write the release like a news story, complete with a headline, compelling lead (introductory sentence), and quotes (if appropriate).
- Structure the information in the body in order of importance, so the editor can cut where needed without losing the most important facts. Focus on the lead paragraph, which is the most important element of the release.
- Use the closing paragraph to provide information about FCCLA. This will be helpful to the reporter in writing the story and give credibility to your chapter and organization. The closing paragraph should be consistent on all releases.
Press Release Do's and Don'ts
- Address your release to the news editor or the news desk. Send it one or two weeks in advance, then phone the news desk a few days before.
- Make sure that all information is accurate-get personal information approved by the person you are writing about.
- Include photos if available.
- Make sure that you are not labeling or misrepresenting any company or individual.
- Send a copy of the program/relevant handouts/flyers/info sheet with the release to help the journalist understand what your event is all about.
- Keep your stories slanted toward local interest. That is why your media is there to report, because their audience is local.
- Watch for opportunities to tie your chapter's news with widespread, national news. "News Pegging" is not hard for FCCLA chapters, since the issues chapters tackle have national significance, such as family and community violence prevention, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, child safety, teen suicide prevention, nutrition, and money management.
- Exaggerate. Instead, stick to the facts.
- Write more than 650 words.
- Use jargon, cliches, slang, trendy phrases, sports terms, or colloquial terms. Go for originality and freshness. Editors love clever writing and an interesting angle.
- Add a list of names, such as: "Members present were..." That isnot news. Instead, list members' names along with their accomplishments, i.e., STAR Events winners, National Cluster Meeting participants, etc.
- Be surprised if a journalist is unable to attend your event.