Durango News – submit a press release to DurangoDowntown.com
Durango News – submit a press release
Submit press releases in document format to [email protected]. Supply images in .jpg format and embed code or links to any video.
THE ANATOMY OF A PRESS RELEASE
For any organization that has a message or a mission, a press release is one of its most effective and vital means of communication. A nonprofit organization cannot afford to operate without good publicity. No matter how great your cause or worthy your need, if your press release isn’t written in a professional manner, you will only achieve nominal success.
A press release opens the door for coverage from all media. With print media – be it newspapers on on-line publications – you can get your communications published regularly (with little editing) if you write interesting, newsworthy press releases.
Where To Start
Build a solid media list, and keep it up-to-date. Only call the media to find out correct contact people, the spelling of their names and email addresses. The only additional calls you should make are in case of emergency, if there’s time-sensitivity to the “news” you have or a last minute change in your event. Never call to “pitch” them (unless it’s a breaking story (i.e. a fire, accident – an emergency). For the average event or non-profit happening, if you can’t make your pitch in an effective press release and intro email note, they’re not going to bite when you call and take their time to try to convince them to cover your activity.
Also, never call to “make sure you got my press release.” If your media list is up to date, they received the release. You can, however, send a follow-up email with the “just to make sure” message. The message here: don’t waste a writer or editor’s time. Although it is always good to develop a rapport with your local press, you need to walk a fine line between making and maintaining a relationship with an editor, and making a pest of yourself.
What do you want to publicize? Anything of import to your organization, its members, supporters, beneficiaries and the general public. Send a press release out when you elect officers, have a fundraiser, or put on a major social gathering or community function. Send out a press release when you know the results of your fundraiser, have a special speaker at a meeting, or decide to begin an exciting new annual event. Be sensitive as to what should or shouldn’t be publicized. Make sure it is pertinent and timely.
The Style and Presentation
A press release should be a clean document using an easily-read typeface in 12 pt. Set the document up with wide margins and a line spacing of 1.5 or 2. Use no colored backgrounds or fancy highlights in the text. Some national media professionals suggest that no logos be used on the document, but local media have no problem with logos, and often will use them with the article.
Set up the top of the press release with the following information:
- Organization Name/Logo
- NEWS or PRESS RELEASE or MEDIA ALERT (or something similar)
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: [date for release if appropriate/necessary]
- Media Contact(s): [name(s)] [phone number(s)] [email]
(Media Contacts are those folks to be quoted in any article or interviewed for on-air broadcast. The PR person’s information will be in the email intro message.)
Compose a “suggested” headline. It should include the most important “facts” of the release. Often editors will only read the headline and make a judgment. Likely your headline will not be used if the release appears in print. Think of it as a sales tool.
The “lead’ or the first paragraph is the crux of your message. In one or two sentences the most important information must be imparted. It should be short and succinct, and get the message across immediately.
The body of the press release “fills in” and expands on the information imparted in the lead. With the body of the release, “build the story.” Make it interesting. Why should anyone care about your organization or event? However, don’t impart emotion or opinion. Make it objective and factual. To impart “emotion” or “opinion” include quotes from key people involved in the event, activity, etc. (usually these are the people listed as media contacts). If an editor/reporter wants more, they will call the contacts.
Save the press release as a Word doc and attach it to the email. Also, copy and paste the entire document in the body of the email. PDFs cannot be used by the media, and unless it’s something an editor feels is important to cover, a PDF will be deleted.
When sending photos, make sure they are high resolution jpgs. Do not send a tif file unless it’s requested. If you want to send a variety of photos, attach them and use your email to reduce their size to medium or large (so the emails are not clogged). Offer in your intro note to the email to send a full resolution photo of one or more an editor may select.
A Journalistic Style
A good press release answers the all-important journalistic questions known as the Five Ws – Who, What, Where, When, and Why. The press release should also answer the Five Ws’ tagalong – How.
A journalistic style is quite different from a style taught in English composition. Academic writing requires slow development and description of something that leads you to a particular point or conclusion. Newswriting gets straight to the point, and develops the story “backwards.” The main point is stated at the beginning, and the rest of the information reveals itself from the most important to the least important. End the release with a centered -30-, # # #, or -END-.
Choose your words carefully and keep the style simple and direct. Pick up an AP Stylebook, which lists the various ways things should be written, paragraph lengths, sentence structure, abbreviations and more. For example, AP Style still uses the “old” state abbreviations (Colo., Calif., Ariz.) not the postal codes (CO, CA, AZ). It will tell you how to include dates, street addresses and what grammar style is appropriate. Each publication has its own “style” and may deviate from AP, but an editor will appreciate it if the basic AP Style is followed.
Double-Check and Reevaluate
When your press release is ready to go, take an extra moment to double-check all facts, dates, names, spelling and grammar. Reread your press release. Is it informative? Is the information clearly defined? Does it speak to the general public? Does the headline and lead grab you and make you want to find out more?
When sending the email, put the headline or an abbreviated version of it in the “Subject” line. Don’t just type “news release.” If your release is geared to a specific news section, start the Subject line with that, i.e. “Sports – XYZ Marathon Date Set.”
Every now and then, it is nice to send a thank-you email to the editor who places your press releases, or to the writer who might have taken your press release and built it into a bigger story. Relate any positive feedback you’ve received from the exposure, such as increased inquiries, new members, good attendance at certain events or donations. Once thanked, an editor/reporter is likely to be more inclined to read your email and use your press releases when they show up in their in-box in the future.