It can be helpful to think of the news release as similar to a party invitation. You need to tell journalists that there is an event, what time to be there, the venue (and parking details) and ask them to RSVP so that you can make the necessary arrangements. Journalists want to know who is doing what and why they are doing it. Sometimes you may need to advise them on what to wear. If they attend your event, they will come away with more information and images than they would have if they do not attend (just like a party bag after a child’s party!).
Your news release needs to be clearly laid out and simple in its content. Avoid trying to write the copy for the journalist. That’s their job. If your story is of interest, they will attend. If the story is not of interest, the editor won’t run, it no matter how long your news release is!
Your release needs the following:
- A heading that simply tells the journalist what the release is about (for example, “Fire Destroys Vicarage”)
- The date
- A reference number for your use
- Double spacing of the text
- Headed paper or headed template
- A first short paragraph to tell the journalist what is happening, when and where it is happening and who is involved
- A second paragraph which includes a short quote from the lead person involved in the story (for example, the
vicar’s expressions of dismay following the fire at his/her home)
- Any further details of the story
- The word ENDS at this point in the release
You may then wish to add Notes for Editors. This is background to the story, for example, details of the historic interest of the site of the vicarage prior to the fire, details of vicar’s family, etc. These details should not appear in the paragraphs of the text in the release. Any details of images attached should be inlcuded here. Images are usually sent as high resolution, colour JPEG files attached to an email. Make sure the copyright is yours. Do not embed your image in a Word document. Contact details are essential. These should appear at the bottom of the release. Email address and telephone number are vital. It is usual to email the release and attached images to the journalist.