Especially for Rotary clubs in small towns where there are community newspapers, it is in your club’s public relations interest to write press releases about your fundraisers and service projects. If these press releases are well written, small papers – and sometimes larger papers – will print them as is.
You may find the first few pages of this Rotary International Public Relations manual helpful in writing for the print or television media.
Follow this general guidance to write press releases that have a chance of publication:
Ten Tips to writing an effective press release
- The headline should be eye-catching, use a play on words or the most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story.
- The ‘lead’ (first sentence) should expand that most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story just enough to interest the reader. It is not essential to get all the who, when, where, what, how, and why in the ‘lead’, or second paragraph, but it is essential to capture the attention of the reader. Usually one of these basic elements is the most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story.
- No later than the third paragraph get a human voice in your release (as a quote). The person quoted should speak to the element(s) of the ‘lead’ that you have focused on.
- Keep the first three or four paragraphs really short, as people only read the beginnings of paragraphs until they are interested.
- News media want to know when and where events are happening, so be complete in this information.
- Remember that all media are visual. Photos, video are what reporters are looking for to draw attention to their stories. Emphasize the visual of the events – indeed PLAN events to be visual if you want news coverage. Reporters do not want to have photos of meetings; they want activity, human interest, something unusual happening.
- Leave background information for the last paragraph(s).
- Never go over a page on a press release.
- Always have contact information at the bottom: person’s name, email, phone
- Call newspapers, TV stations to talk to news editors and find out which reporter might be interestedin your story. Get contact information and send the release to those reporters.