Writing a News Release – Tips and Techniques
PR students often ask Yulu Public Relations if there is a formula that can be followed to learn how to write a news release…or a press release, as some like to call it. The answer is “yes!” and we’ve decided to create a simple “how to write a press release” guide that you can follow to write an effective “news worthy” release.
What’s a News Release?
A news release is simply a written statement for the media to pull information and facts from when reporting their story. The terms news release, press release and media release all carry the same meaning and purpose: They are created and issued when a business, organization or individual wants to make an announcement to the media.
When is it appropriate to write and issue a news release?
News releases are created and issued when a company or individual wants to make a significant announcement. Examples of what might prompt and qualify the need for a news release include: announcing new products and services; a grand opening or scheduled events; sales accomplishments; changes in personnel; recent awards; growth of an organization; etc.
How to write a news release:
- ➢ Start with your news angle: Ask yourself what makes this announcement news worthy or why should anyone care about this? Is your news the first or largest of its kind? Is it an innovative new way of doing things? Is there something surprising or unexpected in your news? Once you have identified that, you have your headline.
- ➢ State the Facts in the form of the 5 W’s: Within the first paragraph, you will want to state the most important of details – what’s happened, why it happened, who it happened to, when it happened and where it happened. The order of the five W’s would vary based on the news/story.
- ➢ Quote(s): You will want to include at least one quote from a high-profile member of your organization related to the announcement. In the case of a university news release, appropriate sources for quotes would be: the Dean of the school, the student involved in the news, the head of the department that is involved in the news story, etc. The first quote should generally be towards the top of the news release with other quotes towards the end.
- ➢ Be a resource: At the end of your release, offer the media more details upon request, such as interviews, images, background materials, etc. Items such as images don’t need to be included in your news release. Simply include a note stating everything is available upon request works well. When sending photos, give clear direction to the media for photo captions and photo credits.
News Release Structure:
Headline: Header should be in bold font, centered in the middle of the page and concise.
- ¶1: Dateline and 5W’s: The city and date are listed before the paragraph begins. Following the dateline will be the most important facts of your news, in the form of the 5 W’s.
- Example: Vancouver, BC – (January 1, 2012) – A team of Hunter University (not a real school) business students (WHO) finished ahead of rival teams from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Alberta (WHAT) at the prestigious Intercollegiate Marketing Competition (WHERE) on February 26 (WHEN). The team finished in third place behind two American competitors due to….(WHY – “why” is more optional than the other W’s)
- ¶ 2: Quote: Paragraph two is usually a good place for a spokesperson quote. The quote should be reflective of the news and keep in mind that a quote is a good way for the organization to plug in less factual content and more self-promotional content. It’s good to consider how the news makes the person leaving the quote feel. i.e. “We couldn’t be happier with our student’s ranking in this prestigious competition. We’re really proud of our business students,” says John Smith, instructor of Hunter’s business program.
- ¶ 3& 4: More background: How this came to be, why it’s significant, who it impacts, why readers should care etc. Add background on the news contributor(s) or benefactor(s):In this case, the news “contributor”would be the award itself. How long has it been in effect? How many schools compete? How many recipients each year?
- ¶5: Resource and Information Reference: At the end of your release, include a paragraph that offers the media more details upon request, such as interviews, images, background materials, etc.
- ¶ 6: Boilerplate: Include information on the school. This can be a link or a longer paragraph.
- ¶End: Media Contact Info: Include your name, title and contact information.