A quality press release is the best way to grasp and maintain the attention of the media. Whether you have an event coming up, a new product or a new social change campaign, writing an effective release will increase your media coverage tenfold.
If you make sure your newsworthy information is presented in a professional manner, you’ll establish credibility for present and future pitches. Adherence to AP style will give your news the necessary technical edge, but it’s not always that simple.
Sometimes it’s best to hire an agency to put you on the right track. At David Greenberg communications, we strive to maintain the highest standard of industry professionalism. Writing press releases, blogs and newsletters is part of our daily routine, and working with the media is always done strategically. We can help you strategize and execute your newsworthy angle.
Before hiring any agency, make sure you’re familiar with these few tips for writing public relations materials:
1. Get to the point.
Your headline and subhead should communicate the newsworthy purpose of your release immediately. Then, use the Five Ws to convey the most important information first. Who, what, when, where and why should be packed into the top portion of your release to grab the attention of the reader.
2. Only use the full name first time.
The first time you mention someone, include his or her first and last name. Upon second reference, only use his or her last name.
3. Titles are not always capitalized.
In most circumstances, a title is only capitalized when it precedes the person’s name (Executive Director John Doe). Titles are usually in lower case when they follow a person’s name (John Doe, executive director).
4. Numbers should not always be digits.
Spell out one through nine and first through ninth. Numerals are used beginning at 10 and 10th.
5. SEO is important.
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important aspects of the digital media era. Make sure you include keywords in your headline, subhead and first paragraphs to generate increased viewership.
6. Do not use the first person.
Third person is used for formal writing such as press releases and most other public relations communication. Only allow “I” and “we” in direct quotes.
7. Do not use postal abbreviations.
Keep your AP stylebook close by to make sure you’re using the appropriate abbreviations for states, which are not the usual zip code abbreviations. For example, when abbreviating Florida, use Fla. in your press release.
8. Months with more than five letters should be abbreviated.
Check your AP stylebook to make sure. For example, November 18 would be abbreviated as Nov. 18 in your release.
9. Serial commas are not (usually) used.
When creating lists in your sentences, skip the serial comma. The only exception is when the last item in your list includes the word “and.” For example, books, magazines and newspapers would not include a serial comma.
10.Magazine and book titles should be in quotations.
These publication titles should never be italicized. Check your AP stylebook for publications that should be placed in quotations.
11.Fact check. Fact check. Fact check.
Accuracy and honesty are the most important guidelines for this industry. Make sure you double-check the spelling of names, addresses and statistics. No one wants to spread incorrect information.
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