Posts tagged ‘news release’

Chapter 6 Notes- Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques- 6th Edition

by: Denis L. Wilcox

Expanding the Publicity Tool Kit


  • fact sheets – one page background sheets about an event, product, or organization
    • a list of facts in outline or bullet form that a reporter can use as a quick reference when writing a story.
    • types of fact sheets:
  1. for upcoming events
  2. one-page sheet giving key facts about an organization – corporate profile
  3. a summary of a new product’s characteristics.
  • media kits/press kit – contains news releases, fact sheets, and photos; assembled to introduce new products, services and major events.
    • Usually prepared for major events and new product launches.
    • A basic media kit may include:
  1. News release
  2. Fact sheets
  3. News feature
  4. Background information
  5. Photos and drawings with captions
  6. Biographical information on the spokesperson or senior executive
  7. Basic brochures
  • media advisories/media alert – let editors know about a newsworthy event or an interview that could lend itself to photo/video coverage.
    • types:
  1. Most common format uses: one line headline, brief paragraph outlining story, 5 W’s, and reporter’s contact info
  2. Used to announce time/location
  3. Used to let reporters and editors know about an interview opportunity
  • making a pitch – writing effective memos and e-mails that will persuade reporters/editors to cover your product, service, or event.
    • A good pitch has three phases
  1. Researching the publication or broadcast show
  2. Writing the e-mail or letter and making the call
  3. Following up

March 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm 2 comments

Chapter 5 Notes- Writing the News Release

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques Sixth Edition

by: Denix L. Wilcox

The Backbone of Publicity Programs

  • Press release- backbone of almost every publicity plan.
  • 55%- 97% of all news releases sent to media outlets are almost never used
  • 1) Standardized Format  2) Provide information that will be interesting to the audience   3) Material must be timely

Basic Questions when planning a News Release

  1. What is the subject of the message? Specific focus?
  2. Who is the message designed to reach?
  3. What is in it for the audience? Benefits/rewards?
  4. What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose? Is it to increase sales? Position the company as a leader? Show company’s concern for environment? Etc.
  5. What do you want to achieve with the NR? To change attitudes/behavior or to increase attendance at a local event?
  6. What key messages should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific publication and its readers?

Types of News Releases

  1. Announcements – personnel appointments, new products/services, mergers, awards, parties, anniversaries, openings/closings, etc.
  2. Spot announcements- When a storm disrupts the services of a public utility or a fire or an accident stops work, a flood closes roads, etc.
  3. Reaction stories – when a n event or situation has an impact on the organization.
  4. Bad news – The only way to make the best of a bad situation is to confront it; a release giving facts and the organization’s point of view should be drafted immediately.
  5. Local news – most common reason that news releases get used is the presence of a local angel

Parts of a Traditional News Release

  1. Letterhead
  2. Contacts
  3. Headline – brief, sometimes have a second headline known as a subhead
  4. Dateline
  5. Lead Paragraph – most important part of any news release
  6. Body of Text – write in inverted pyramid style. Most important facts go at the beginning of the news release so the editors will see the most interesting lines first thing.

February 23, 2010 at 3:49 am Leave a comment

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

There are several basic components of what qualifies as “news”.  Publicists must be familiar with these characteristics in order to write news releases that will move past the media gatekeepers and get published.  These components include but are not limited to, timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, human interest,unusualness, and newness.  One of the most important aspects may be timeliness since news by definition, must be current.

A publicist can make an article timely in various ways.  First, is to announce something when it first happens.  An example would be the announcement of an organization’s new CEO, or the launch of a new product.  A second way to make something timely would be to provide additional information to an event or situation that is already being covered.  For example during the Olympics, after Shaun White had won his gold medal, reporters continued talking about his win by mentioning his childhood or interviewing him after the medal stand.  A third tactic would be to relate an organization’s product or service to another event that has national recognition and interest.  For example, Kimberly-Clark publicized its toilet paper during halftime of the Super Bowl.  The company used Mike Ditka and an essay contest, “Share Your Cloggiest Moment.”

A good way to get media coverage is to have a “star” attend a grand opening of an organization’s event.  Movie stars, rock stars, and professional athletes do draw media attention, but other types of celebrities can draw attention as well.  For example, a hospital, clinic or shelter can get first-page coverage if a governor or even a mayor, pays a visit.

Another component of news is proximity.  Surveys have shown that generally news releases that are considered acceptable to media gatekeepers are those that have a local angle.  Hometowners are stories that are customized for an individual’s local newspaper emphasizing the local angle in the first paragraph.  Whenever possible the PR writer should attempt to “localize” information.

Another component of news is significance.  Any situation that can affect a substantial number of people is significant.  For example, Harvard recently released a study that said that people who drink “soda” gain an extra 15 pounds per year.  However, keep in mind when judging significance you must not only know how many people will be affected, but also who will be affected.

People love reading about other people.  This is called human interest and it is another component of the news.  Human interest is not restricted to celebrities.  An article may focus on a woman with aids detailing her experience with a sordid clinic and people would rather listen to her story in her own words rather than seeing bar charts showing the state’s decreasing funding for public healthcare clinics.

Newness is another component of what makes news.  New products or services should be written about in a news release.  For example, Apple’s iPod and iPhone generated thousands of articles and blog posts when they were first introduced.

**Some facts/definitions from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques- 6th Edition by: Denis L. Wilcox

February 16, 2010 at 9:14 am Leave a comment


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