(Extracted from the Verity company's staff training manual)
How to prepare a press release
Find out about the places where you are going to send the press release, and then target those which are likely to cover the event. Don't send to everybody you can think of - this stuff comes with our logo on, and we don't want editors to think we send irrelevant material. When are the deadlines of your target media? It's no use sending material a few days before publication and expecting it to be published. Time the event to hit the media you want to interest at a moment that is good for them.
Then find out the best way to send them the material. Not every publisher likes to receive an e-mailed press release. Some prefer fax, or posted material. If you do e-mail, don't send your material as an attachment - it might be deleted in case it carries something nasty.
Make sure the company website carries the same information. If it's news, why isn't the company making it also promoting it?
Think! Why should the people who buy your target publication be interested in what you are saying? Think of a need which can be met by your product, or a problem it can solve. You are producing news, not advertising, so don't try to sell. Editors will bin your stuff, and readers will ignore it.
Choose your headline with care. It has to get the attention of the editor, not the public. The editor will probably write his own headline anyway. Your opening paragraph should summarise the rest of the release. Make sure the questions who, what, why, when, where and how are answered - without being too wordy. Be interesting, if the reader does not finish the paragraph, the rest of the release is wasted.
Think like a reader - what background will he need? If it's a product, how much will it cost, if it's new, when will it be released? What related products will the reader know about?
Briefly describe your company - years in business, headquarters, products readers might know of and trust. Make sure that there is complete contact information for public and editors.
Keep the whole release short. 300 words is plenty, 500 words is probably too long,
After the Release
Do not call editors to ask if they got your release. It only annoys them. But make sure that in the time leading up to publication, there is always someone available to give follow-up information and answer questions.
1. What is meant by 'this stuff' in the first paragraph?
b. Publicity material.
c. Training manuals.
d. Places to send material.
2. The first paragraph is about ... (choose two)
3. Why should e-mail attatchments not be used?
4. What should a press release do for readers?
a. They are nasty.
b. Editors prefer faxes.
c. They cost more.
d. They can be viruses.
a. Tell them something useful.
b. Advertise a product.
c. Summarise a product.
d. Be about the news.
5. What should the opening paragraph do?
a. Keep the readers' attention.
b. Answer readers questions.
c. Fill a need.
d. Answer a problem.
6. What does 'think like a reader' mean?
a. Do not write much.
b. Try to be amusing.
c. Give information that readers want.
d. Think about who will read the material.
7. Why should the press release be short?
a. You don't have much information.
b. Editors prefer to write more themselves.
c. People don't have much time.
d. The release has more impact.
8. What happens after a press release has been sent?
a. The editor may want to know more.
b. The editor will expect you to call.
c. It is time for publication.
d. You must check that it has arrived.