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Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Capt Steven Solomon Southeast Region DPA Member,

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Presentation on theme: "Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Capt Steven Solomon Southeast Region DPA Member,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Capt Steven Solomon Southeast Region DPA Member, National PA Advisory Committee PAO Academy Kissimmee, Fla. 5 Aug. 2008

2 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally This is an introductory course for new and entry- level PAOs.

3 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Throughout this Power Point I've placed noteworthy comments (in red) that were given to me by several of my old friends and colleagues especially for this presentation.

4 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –You can find a local angle on practically any story. -- Ed Buice, PAO, NCIS

5 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally A show of hands, please: How many Master-rated PAOs are in the room? How about Senior-rated PAOs? Any Technician-level PAOs?

6 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally This seminar is for the new PAO who has never written a news release or the PAO with a little bit of experience who would like to confirm that they are on the right track. This seminar is for the new PAO who has never written a news release or the PAO with a little bit of experience who would like to confirm that they are on the right track. Can you recognize what is newsworthy about your wing or squadron? Do you know how to use the AP Stylebook? Are your first few sentences compelling enough to grab the readers attention from beginning to end? Did you double check your facts? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy? Can you recognize what is newsworthy about your wing or squadron? Do you know how to use the AP Stylebook? Are your first few sentences compelling enough to grab the readers attention from beginning to end? Did you double check your facts? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy?

7 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally First, who in the CAP unit is responsible for public affairs?

8 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Each unit commander shall appoint a qualified individual to be the PAO...The commander and the PAO, as the commanders delegate, are the official spokespersons for their unit. --CAPR 190-1

9 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally And who can tell me the definition of public affairs and/or what a CAP PAO does?

10 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally PAOs shall develop standard plans and procedures for external promotion of key events in the unit, such as participation in training and actual missions, awards and promotions, and special unit activities. - -CAPR 190-1

11 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Every squadron needs a PAO. And, it is not a bad idea to also appoint a Cadet PAO too! THE old CAP Guide to Public Affairs, CAP Pamphlet 190-1, actually said that squadrons could also have a: Deputy PAO Deputy PAO Media Relations Officer Media Relations Officer Photographer/Videographer Photographer/Videographer Newsletter Editor Newsletter Editor Legislative Officer Legislative Officer Its a rare squadron commander who has the personnel for all these positions, but the bottom line is that unless the commander is willing to take all this on him or her self, someone has to be tapped for the PAO position!

12 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally PAOs shall regularly submit news advisories and releases, with photographs whenever possible... CAPR June 2007

13 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally There are several types of written messages: News releases, fact sheets, advisories, emergency alerts, backgrounders, and statements are all different forms of communication and should not be confused with each other.

14 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –What can I write about? –What should be included in every press release? –How do I write a press release; is there a typical format? –What about style, grammar, and punctuation? –Abbreviations and capitalization? –When do I need special letterhead? –Who should be listed for more information? –Distribution?

15 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Give me some examples of what a unit PAO can write about...

16 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally The answer is: write about the ordinary!

17 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Because if you're waiting for someone in your unit to win the Silver Medal of Valor before writing a news release you'd better be prepared for a long wait!

18 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? What you can write about: Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –Introduce new members –Promotions and awards –Training opportunities –Emergency services –Squadron activities (senior and cadet) –New regulations and supplements –Calendar of upcoming events

19 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally But please, stick to just one subject. It is more effective to feature a single subject rather than peppering your write up with numerous topics.

20 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Anticipate what will be news. -- Ed Buice, PAO, NCIS

21 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Stumped? Stumped? Don't be afraid to steal, or to put it more mildly, why reinvent the wheel when you can borrow? Don't be afraid to steal, or to put it more mildly, why reinvent the wheel when you can borrow? Go to the Hometown News Release and CAP News Online pages on the CAP web site at to see how others have already written about the same topics. Go to the Hometown News Release and CAP News Online pages on the CAP web site at to see how others have already written about the same topics.

22 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Place the phrase FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE in the upper left corner. Capitalize every letter. Place the phrase FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE in the upper left corner. Capitalize every letter.

23 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Below the phrase FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, skip a couple lines and place the contact persons information. Below the phrase FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, skip a couple lines and place the contact persons information. List your name, grade, title; home, work and mobile telephone and fax numbers, and addresses. List your name, grade, title; home, work and mobile telephone and fax numbers, and addresses. If for any reason you are not going to be available list some other spokesperson or the person with the most information, because reporters often work on a deadline and may not be available until after hours. If for any reason you are not going to be available list some other spokesperson or the person with the most information, because reporters often work on a deadline and may not be available until after hours.

24 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Compose a short headline that clearly describes the news release content and grabs the readers attention. The ideal headline is 80 characters long. Center it in bold type on the page. Place concise secondary subheads in italics below the main headline. Compose a short headline that clearly describes the news release content and grabs the readers attention. The ideal headline is 80 characters long. Center it in bold type on the page. Place concise secondary subheads in italics below the main headline.

25 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally A dateline is the city your news release is issued from and the date you are distributing your release. This is typically the HQ from which your unit is based or the AFB where the activity was held. A dateline is the city your news release is issued from and the date you are distributing your release. This is typically the HQ from which your unit is based or the AFB where the activity was held. The AP Stylebook (page 66) lists the 30 U.S.cities that are so large and well known that they don't need the state to be listed too. For example, it is TAMPA, Fla., but only MIAMI. States are not abbreviated like the Zip Codes (see page 66)! The AP Stylebook (page 66) lists the 30 U.S.cities that are so large and well known that they don't need the state to be listed too. For example, it is TAMPA, Fla., but only MIAMI. States are not abbreviated like the Zip Codes (see page 66)!

26 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Lead – The first paragraph is used to grab the readers attention. 5 Ws and H – The most important of the questions should be answered in the lead. Others are answered later. Short paragraphs – Paragraphs run one to two sentences in length. Rarely do you see paragraphs of more than three sentences. Quotations – The exact words of someone talking. Its a good idea to use quotations to bring "life" to your story. Inverted pyramid style – You want to include the most important information first, followed in descending order by less-important information.

27 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Lead – The first paragraph is used to grab the readers attention. 5 Ws and H – The most important of the questions should be answered in the lead. Others are answered later. Short paragraphs – Paragraphs run one to two sentences in length. Rarely do you see paragraphs of more than three sentences. Quotations – The exact words of someone talking. Its a good idea to use quotations to bring "life" to your story. Inverted pyramid style – You want to include the most important information first, followed in descending order by less-important information.

28 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –Who – What – When – Where – Why – How

29 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally – Who: Who is announcing the news? – What: What is being announced: a promotion, change of command, SAREX, etc.? – When: The time -- include a.m. or p.m. -- and date. Make certain the day and date correspond. – Where: The location of the program or activity that was or will be held. – Why: This is your key message. It is why you are making news.

30 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Once you master the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of your press release, you can begin to revise it and tighten the wording so that it appears to be reader friendly, while ensuring that all of the questions your readers will want to know have been answered. -- Greg Soule, PAO, TSA

31 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Limit your opening (lead) sentence to no more than 25–28 words. Keep your lead paragraph below 50 words. It should be very short but can capture the essence of what you're writing about. Readers usually scan a page. If you can catch their attention, then your press release is effective.

32 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Lead sentence guidelines: Who said or did something. What was said or happened. When it was said or happened. Where it was said or happened. Why it was said or happened.

33 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally The lead makes or breaks the press release. -- Greg Soule, PAO, TSA

34 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –Who – Eighty members from 45 Wings of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) –What – attended a Public Affairs Academy –When – Aug. 5-6 –Where – at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kisimmee, Fla. –Why – to focus on the theme Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally.

35 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Second paragraph: The se ssions will be complemented by networking opportunities and the presentation of CAP Balsem awards for professional excellence in a variety of categories. In addition, keynote speaker CNN's Miles O'Brien will provide an inside view on how to secure national media coverage.

36 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally In the third paragraph, insert a quote from a leader, such as the director or a project head, about the event or program. Be sure to identify the source of all quotes. Make sure that the quote content explains and enhances the story, and that there is a clear relationship between the person quoted and the story. Try to limit the number of quotes to no more than two people.

37 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Third paragraph: Areas of emphasis will include media relations, Web site development, community relations, newsletters, planning and much more, said Julie DeBardelaben, deputy director of public affairs at CAP's national headquarters. The sessions will be complemented by networking opportunities and the presentation of CAP Balsem awards for professional excellence in a variety of categories.

38 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Fourth paragraph: The inaugural Academy was held last year in Atlanta and will be held every other year starting in The agenda and presentations were selected by CAP's Public Affairs Team -- National Adviser Col. Rick Greenhut, Team Leader Lt. Col. Cynthia Ryan, and members Col. Virginia Keller, Maj. Douglas Jessmer, and Capt. Steven Solomon.

39 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Fifth paragraph: Completing the course from this area were Maj. Paige Joyner of Atlanta, public affairs officer for the Georgia Wing; Maj. Patricia Mitcham of Huntsville, Ala., public affairs officer for the Alabama Wing; Lt. Col. Jim Lawson of Maryville, Tenn., newsletter editor for the Southeast Region; and Lt. Col. George Navarini of Pembroke Pines, Fla., director of marketing and public affairs for the Florida Wing.

40 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Next to last paragraph: The Southeast Region (SER) of CAP encompasses the five states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. SER consists of 9,115 members (5,163 officers and 3,952 cadets), which makes it the largest Region in CAP. Last year the six Wings flew more than 15,000 hours and were credited with saving 3 lives. There are approximately 275 units in the SER.

41 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally The final paragraph covers ba sic organizational information, e.g., who you are, history of the event or program. If you have a list of member organizations, sponsors, or other partners, list them in an attachment rather than incorporating that information into the text of the release. This makes it easier for a reporter or editor to review.

42 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP Final paragraph: Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 56,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 103 lives in fiscal year Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the nearly 22,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 66 years. For information, go to

43 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Follow the inverted pyramid style with the most important facts first. Follow the inverted pyramid style with the most important facts first. Keep sentences short. Keep sentences short. Use short, well-known words. Avoid jargon. Use short, well-known words. Avoid jargon. Use active words to add zest to your writing. Avoid, for example, "it was said," or "it is thought." Use active words to add zest to your writing. Avoid, for example, "it was said," or "it is thought." Use specific, concrete - not abstract - words and terms. Use specific, concrete - not abstract - words and terms. Do not editorialize, which means injecting your own preferences or even preferences of the subject you are writing about without attributing. Do not editorialize, which means injecting your own preferences or even preferences of the subject you are writing about without attributing. Avoid adjectives that reflect opinion. Stick to the facts. Avoid adjectives that reflect opinion. Stick to the facts.

44 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally If your release goes beyond one page, type -more- at the bottom of the first page. Keep the release to a maximum of two/three pages, but strive for one. If your release goes beyond one page, type -more- at the bottom of the first page. Keep the release to a maximum of two/three pages, but strive for one. At the end of your release, type ### or -30- to indicate the end of the copy. At the end of your release, type ### or -30- to indicate the end of the copy.

45 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally NEVER WRITE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS! NEVER WRITE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS! This is very bad form. Even if your news release makes it past the editors (highly unlikely), it will definitely be ignored by journalists. Use mixed case. This is very bad form. Even if your news release makes it past the editors (highly unlikely), it will definitely be ignored by journalists. Use mixed case.

46 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally What about style, grammar, and punctuation? In the United States, most books and libraries follow the Chicago Manual of Style while the most-used guide for the general public is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. CAP PAOs use the AP Stylebook as reference. This is the guide used by HQ/PA at Maxwell AFB, Civil Air Patrol Volunteer, and most major newspapers in the United States.

47 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally What about style, grammar, and punctuation? Do NOT use The Tongue and Quill. Do NOT use CAPR 10-1 Preparing and Processing Correspondence. Do NOT use the Air University Style Guide.

48 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally What about style, grammar, and punctuation? Pay carefull attention to abbreviations: CAP abbreviations used for internal memos are NOT the same for press releases! Example: Example: - 2d Lt for CAP memos - 2nd Lt. for CAP press releases

49 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? What about style, grammar, and punctuation? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Pay close attention to capitalization; the AP Stylebook directs that titles before a name are capitalized, but titles after a name are not. Also, titles standing alone are not capitalized. Examples: Examples: - Wing Commander Col. John Doe noted… - Wing Commander Col. John Doe noted… - Col. John Doe, wing commander, said… - Col. John Doe, wing commander, said… - The wing commander stated that… - The wing commander stated that…

50 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Are your first few sentences compelling enough to grab the readers attention from beginning to end? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Use short, declarative sentences and double- space the lines. Make sure to use an active verb in your first sentence. Use short, declarative sentences and double- space the lines. Make sure to use an active verb in your first sentence. But avoid puff words and phrases such as exciting, very large, monumental, etc. But avoid puff words and phrases such as exciting, very large, monumental, etc.

51 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did you double check your facts? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –Read through your news release as though it's the first time. Read through it as though it's a story in the paper. Read through it looking for typos and awkward sentences. If there are lots of names, ask someone to help you check the spellings by reading the letters aloud while you hold the original document that lists them.

52 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did you double check your facts? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –When I write a news release for CAP, I like to use lots of names and also their hometowns and ages. If it's about just one person, as in a story about a promotion, I also list CAP specialities, qualifications, encampments and activities. I get this information from eServices.

53 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did you double check your facts? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally –Google the names of the universities your subjects say they attended, the businesses they say they work for, the aircraft they say they fly, etc. to ensure you are spelling everything correctly and have the context right.

54 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally After re-checking that your facts are correct and performing spellcheck, it is imperative that you get approval of what is actually only a draft of a news release at this point. After re-checking that your facts are correct and performing spellcheck, it is imperative that you get approval of what is actually only a draft of a news release at this point.

55 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Every organization has a code of ethics. Some even write them down, and a few actually live up to those ethics... When we stick to those ethics, even in troubling times, we flourish and we are believed. -- Bob Stone, Chief, Public Affairs, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command

56 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Who should review your news release? Your Commander or designee Your Commander or designee Activity or Mission director Activity or Mission director Next level higher PAO Next level higher PAO PAOs from cooperating agencies PAOs from cooperating agencies Trusted colleague or family member Trusted colleague or family member EVERY person quoted EVERY person quoted

57 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally But DON'T let anyone who reviews your news release force you to capitalize or abbreviate or make any change contrary to the AP Stylebook! But DON'T let anyone who reviews your news release force you to capitalize or abbreviate or make any change contrary to the AP Stylebook! Gently remind superiors that the style used for producing a news release for the public is NOT the same as writing a CAP memo for internal readers. (If you need help, call your Wing PAO.) Gently remind superiors that the style used for producing a news release for the public is NOT the same as writing a CAP memo for internal readers. (If you need help, call your Wing PAO.)

58 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Did everyone quoted or referenced in your story have a chance to review it for accuracy? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally DO send everyone who has reviewed your news release a final copy for their files along with a list of media you've sent it to. DO send everyone who has reviewed your news release a final copy for their files along with a list of media you've sent it to.

59 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Closing thoughts...

60 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Photo tips will be offered by HQ/PA's Susan Robertson in a roundtable tomorrow. Photo tips will be offered by HQ/PA's Susan Robertson in a roundtable tomorrow. What you should do with your news releases will be explained by GAWG's PAO Maj Paige Joyner in a presentation later today. What you should do with your news releases will be explained by GAWG's PAO Maj Paige Joyner in a presentation later today. But, for those who just can't wait: But, for those who just can't wait:

61 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally Distribute your news releases by – NOT fax or mail – to only the most likely media that will use them. Send them to ONLY one media person at a time. Paste the releases as plain text in your e- mail. Do NOT send any attachments. If you have photos ONLY indicate the captions; if the media is interested in seeing your photos they will ask for them. Do NOT call to ask if your was received. And NO, you don't need to design any kind of letterhead with color logos in order to distribute your news releases. Distribute your news releases by – NOT fax or mail – to only the most likely media that will use them. Send them to ONLY one media person at a time. Paste the releases as plain text in your e- mail. Do NOT send any attachments. If you have photos ONLY indicate the captions; if the media is interested in seeing your photos they will ask for them. Do NOT call to ask if your was received. And NO, you don't need to design any kind of letterhead with color logos in order to distribute your news releases.

62 Basic: How Do I Write a News Release for CAP? Public Affairs Essentials: Think Nationally, Act Locally The End. Questions?


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