PR professionals will see that the key to establishing credibility and having a press release end up in the hands of whom it was intended rather than in an office wastebasket depends on a properly formatted press release sans grammatical and stylistic errors.
According to a Web page on PRLOG.org describing how to write a press release, “A press release is simply a statement prepared for distribution to the news media announcing something claimed as having news value with the intent of gaining media coverage.”
As is typical of news writing, delivering an effective PR message to an audience must be come in inverted pyramid style to make its mark on readers. This style focuses on putting the most important information at the top and putting the less important information in descending order until the least important bit of information is at the very bottom.
The graphic below describes inverted pyramid style in its simplest form.
In the 9th edition textbook titled “Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics” by Dennis Wilcox, when writing a press release, one should include the basics (name, affiliation, release date, etc…), look at media events to determine appropriate times to publish, use tie-ins to publicly known events and holidays whenever possible and attempt to localize news.
In doing so, media receptivity to a press release will be greater. However, in order to fully grab the attention of the gatekeepers that control what the public sees, a proper format will help to catch their eye.
According to Dr. Dean Kazoleas, public relations professor at Cal State Fullerton, every press release should be formatted as follows:
FOR INFORMATION: WHO SHOULD BE GETTING THIS
FROM Information: Your full name
Day: & Eve/Wknd
FOR RELEASE: March 15, 2004/or For Immediate Release
Subhead Allows You to Keep Headline Brief
Newsworthy information for the media is included here. It should never be more than two pages (approximately 400 words) in length.
Include one or more of the six criteria for news: public impact, proximity, currency, timeliness, prominence and human interest.
Follow the basics of news reporting by including who, what, where, when and how.
# # #
Using proper news judgment in association with the inverted pyramid style will provide readers with a succinct presentation of important material to get the media’s attention.
According to Wilcox, writers may also include links to sources, blogs or other online discussions, meta tags, photos, slide shows, and whatever else may enhance the effectiveness of one’s press release.
Writers should also never forget that once the aforementioned items are done, a PR professional must ensure that grammatical and stylistic errors do not exist. To do so, use of The Associated Press Stylebook will provide one with the rules and guidelines for an error-free press release. For online access to the AP Stylebook, visit the site.
The stylebook can be purchased online or in stores for writers that want to ensure they emit an air of professionalism with everything they write.
By Justine Mrsich