Do Your News Releases Follow These Simple Guidelines?

If you’re reading this, it’s because you know a news release can be more effective than an ad in promoting your business.

Prospective clients or customers realize ads are biased. It’s obvious you’re trying to sell something. But readers will view a well written and timely news release as unbiased, factual, and credible – enhancing your public image.

The downside? There’s no guarantee your news will be published.

Use these guidelines to increase the chances that you’ll read about your business in tomorrow’s paper.

What Makes an Effective News Release?

Most important: Is it news? You should be able to answer at least one of these questions with a “Yes.”

  • Is it timely? Can you use words like today, yesterday, early this morning, tomorrow?
  • Is it local? Does it have some connection to someone in your community?
  • Is a celebrity involved? Will a well-known personality appear at your event?
  • Is it relevant? Are readers interested in your topic? Is it useful to them? Is your story tied to a current event or holiday?
  • Is it unique? Is your event unusual, unexpected, or even weird? Has one of your staff accomplished a unique or noteworthy public service?
  • Is there conflict? Does the story involve conflict and/or the resolution of conflict?
  • Does it have an emotional appeal? Will the story elicit readers’ sympathy or other emotional response?
  • Is the consequence significant? Do your business goals and activities have social consequences? What would be some negative consequences if you didn’t do what you do?

To increase the chance your story will be published:

  1. Write an irresistible headline that piques curiosity, makes the reader want to read on.
  2. Include the relevant points – who, what, where, when, and why – in the first paragraph.
  3. Write the story in third person, and make it about people – with brief quotes from one or two.
  4. Provide all relevant information, but keep it succinct. Editors and reporters receive a lot of story pitches and may not read beyond the first couple of paragraphs. If they want more detail, they’ll ask. You hope they do!
  5. Include company information in a last paragraph – who you are, what you do, how to reach you, and your web address.
  6. Be sure the press release is free of typos or errors that will cause an editor or journalist to dismiss you and your news as unprofessional.

Using photographs

Photographs increase interest in your story and give your release an extra advantage.

Two tips here:

  • Remember that action shots are more effective than posed shots.
  • Include a caption with the correct spelling of names and a sentence explaining the event (including who, what, where, when, why).

Often – because of matters beyond your control – lack of space or lack of attention on the part of a reporter or because of more immediate news – your release won’t be printed.

Don’t give up. Just keep asking the question, “Would anyone care about this?” If the answer’s “Yes,” then you’re doing them a service by sharing your good news.

Cheryl Bryan

About Cheryl Bryan

Cheryl has years of experience in the business world, in a variety of fields: staffing, insurance, construction, and advertising, to name a few. She has freelanced since 1990. Friends and colleagues describe her as genuine, thoughtful, gracious, organized, easy-going, compassionate, a "thinker as well as a doer," and one who not only gets the job done but does it well. Born in rural Nebraska, she is back now after living in California, Texas, South Africa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Mississippi and traveling in Europe, South Africa, and Thailand.
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