Chapter 15 The Press Release

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Fundamentals of writing
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1. The idea must precede the expression: Think before writing. Few people can observe an event, immediately grasp the meaning, and sit down to compose several pages of sharp, incisive prose.Writing requires ideas, and ideas require thought. The trick in coming up with new clever ideas lies more in borrowing old ones than in creating new ones. 2. Don’t be afraid of the draft: After deciding on an idea and establishing the purpose of a communication, the writer should prepare a rough draft. Drafting is a necessary and foolproof method for avoiding a mediocre, half baked product. Writing, no matter how good, can usually be improved with a second look. The draft helps you organize ideas and plot their development before you commit them to a written test. 3. Simplify, clarify: In writing, the simpler the better. Today, with more and more consumers reading from computer screens, simplicity is imperative. The more people who understand what you’re trying to say, the better chances for stimulating action. Shop talk, jargon, and “in” words should be avoided. Standard English is all that is required to get an idea across. In almost every case, what makes sense is the simple rather than the complex. 4. Writing must be aimed at a particular audience: The writer must have the target group in mind and tailor the message to reach that audience. To win the minds and hearts of a specific audience, one must be willing to sacrifice the understanding of certain others. Writers, like companies, cant expect to be all things to all people.
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Inverted pyramid
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This can be applied to journalistic writing. In their stories, every word counts. If their readers lose interest early, they’re not likely to be around at the end of the story. This is where the inverted pyramid comes in. Generally the first tier, or lead, of the story is the first one or two paragraphs, which includes the most important facts. From there, paragraphs are written in descending order of importance, with progressively less important facts presented as the article continues- thus the term inverted pyramid. The lead is the most critical element, usually answering the questions concerning who, what, why, when, where and occasionally how. “Columbia pictures announced today it had signed Mila Kunis and Ryan Gosling to a three film deal for $60 million each.” This helps to form the news release.
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5 newsworthy topics for news release
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Impact: a major announcement that affects an organization, its community, or even society. Oddity: an unusual occurrence or milestone, such as the one-millionth customer being signed on. Conflict: a significant dispute or controversy, such as a labor disagreement or rejection of a popular proposal Known Principal: the greater the title of the individual making the announcement-president vs vice president- the greater the chance of the release being used. Proximity: how localized the release is or how timely it is, relative to the news of the day. Other than these 5 topics, human interest stories, which touch on an emotional experience, are regularly considered newsworthy.
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Lead of a press release
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When a release is newsworthy and of potential interest to an editor, it must be written clearly and concisely in proper newspaper style. It must get to the facts early and answer the six key questions. Then it must follow the inverted pyramid structure to its conclusion. Must answer these questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? To be newsworthy, news release must be objective. All comments and editorial remarks must be attributed to organizational officials. The news release cant be used as the private soapbox of the release writer. Rather, it must appear as a fair and accurate presentation of the news that the organization wishes to convey.
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News release style
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Most public relations operations follow the style practiced by major newspaper and magazines rather than that of book publishers. This news style is detailed in various guidelines published by such authorities as the Associated Press and The New York Times. Typical style rules are: Capitalization: Most leading publications use capital letters sparingly; so should you. Editors call this a down style because only the most important words begin with capital letters. Abbreviations: present a many faceted problem. In addition, first mention of organizations and agencies should be spelled out, with the abbreviation in parentheses after the name, such as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Numbers: General rule is to spell out numbers zero through nine and use figures for 10 and up. Yet numerals are perfectly acceptable for such things as election returns, speeds and distances, percentages, temperatures, heights, ages, ratios, and sports scores. Spelling: Many words, from advisor to zucchini, are commonly misspelled. The best way to avoid misspellings is to have a dictionary always within reach. When two spellings are given in a dictionary, the first spelling is always preferred.
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Social Media Releases
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Social Media Releases (SMRs) are designed to reach nontraditional journalists, such as bloggers and podcasters. Technically, to qualify for an SMR, a release only needs a photo. Often, SMRs might use other technological tools-video, audio, links, etc. to mash up their own multimedia news stories. Like any other release, SMRs should contain contact information, boilerplate, and quotes. Unlike traditional releases, SMRs can embed head shots and logos; include video, audio, and photos, as well as link to additional material that might be relevant. In addition, SMRs include tags to social bookmarking services. SMR writers should include as many tags as they can to ensure that the SMR is easily found.
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Writing releases for the internet (via email)
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In terms of news release writing for the internet, brevity and succinctness are paramount. Reading from a computer screen is more difficult and tedious than extracting from paper. Therefore, Internet news release writing must conform to the follows requisites: One reporter per “To” line: nobody, least of all reporters, like to be lumped in with everybody else. Thats why journalists despise press conferences. They want to be considered “special”. So don’t group journalists together on the “To” line of an email release. Limit subject line headers: Most reporters are cursed with a daily email inbox that runneth over. Therefore, enticing them with a provocative subject line is a necessity if you want your release to be considered. You should limit subject headers to four to six words, no more. Hammer home the headline: Email release headlines are as important as print headlines to attract immediate interest and subsequent coverage. Email headlines should be written in boldface upper and lowercase and as in all email writing, should be limited in length- to 10 words or less. Limit Length: Email news release should be shorter than print versions; PR Newswire reports that the average print release is 500 words. Observe 5W format: Email news release should observe traditional news release style, leading with the 5W format, to answer the key questions of who, what, why, when, where, and even how. No attachments: Never. Journalists wish neither to face the risk of a virus nor take the time to download. So don’t attach anything. Remember readability: Email releases must balance information with readability. That means short paragraphs, varied paragraph length, bullets, numbers, lists- devices that make the release more eye friendly and scannable.
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Press Kit
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a package of promotion material provided to members of the press to brief them, especially about a product, service, or candidate.
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What does a press kit consist of?
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Company overview, Biographies, FAQs, News coverage, Art, and Contact Information
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Why is it important?
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A Press kit is a one-stop shopping for journalists, it is a marketing tool for potential clients and advertisers, and because of the digital info, which gives them instant access

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