Chapter 5: Writing The News Release

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox 

The Backbone of Publicity Programs: 

  • The basic news release, press release, is the backbone of almost every publicity plan.
  • Various studies have found that between 55 and 97 percent of all news releases send to media outlets are never used.
  • There is massive competition for the attention of reporters and editors.
  • For your release to stand a chance, you must do three things
    • Follow a standardized format
    • Provide information that will be of interest to your audience
    • Material must be timely

The Value of News Releases: 

  • The primary reason to write a news release is to help achieve organizational objectives.
  • They are cost effective.
  • News releases appear in the news columns of newspapers, and studies consistently show that people consider information in a news story to be much more believable than an advertisement.

Planning a News Release: 

  • Basic Questions:
    • What is the subject of the message? What is the specific focus of this release?
    • Who is this message designed to reach?
    • What is in it for this particular audience? What are the potential benefits and rewards?
    • What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose? Is it to increase sales of a product? Position the company as a leader in the field? Show company concern for the environment?
    • What do you want to achieve with the news release? Is the objective to inform, to change attitudes and behavior, or to increase attendance at a local event?
    • What key message should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific publication and its readers?

Types of News Releases: 

  • Announcements
  • Spot Announcements
  • Reaction Releases
  • Bad News
  • Local News

Parts of a Traditional News Release: 

  • Letterhead
  • Contacts
  • Headline
  • Dateline
  • The Lead
  • Body of the Text

Writing the E-mail News Release: 

  • Different from normal news releases in that they are shorter in length and single-spaced.
  • Tips:
    • Use bullets to convey key points
    • Write only two or three short sentences in each of the five paragraphs
    • Above the headline, or at the bottom of the release, be sure to provide contact information
    • Never send a release as an attachment

Preparing the Multimedia News Release: 

  • SMR (smart media release) make it possible to embed a news release with high resolution photos/graphics, video, and audio components.
  • DO’s:
    • Include links to pages where multiple instances of your key words/phrases reinforce your message.
    • Place terms in key positions like headlines and first paragraphs.
    • Distribute a release through a service that carries hyperlinks to downstream sites such as Yahoo! Finance, AOL News, and Netscape.
  • DON’T’s:
    • Go link crazy. Too many links will confuse journalists and draw focus away from key message.
    • Use low-resolution images. Opt for high-resolution multimedia that can be easily used by layout pros.
    • Use all tools, all the times. Focus first on the message. Use the bells and whistles to complement the campaign.


Filed under Chapter Notes, PRCA 3330

2 responses to “Chapter 5: Writing The News Release

  1. Ashley, I’m so impressed at the detail and precision of your chapter notes! After reading through many of your posts, I have actually learned a lot in regards of what I want from my own blog. I would love for someone to think the same thing if they wound up at my page- now I am happy to have found as a sort of inspiration to my own! Great job!
    Maggie Crowley

  2. Thank you Maggie. I find my posts as ways to ‘restudy’ the chapters. I usually look at the main headings in each chapter, then include the most important things under each. The first page of the chapter is a good reference to the major headings! Happy blogging 🙂
    Thanks for the comment!

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