Presentation on theme: "PR Writing Abilene Christian University"— Presentation transcript:
1PR Writing Abilene Christian University News ReleasesPR WritingAbilene Christian University
2Origins of the news release Ivy Lee – First news release – Pennsylvania Railroad, 1906; printed word-for-word in The New York Times.Today, an estimated 2,500-3,000 news releases are distributed DAILY. They are the most common document generated by PR pros.The preferred name for this document has shifted from “press release” to “news release” as the target audience and distribution channels have broadened.
3What’s the purpose of a news release? Strategic purposes: InformPromotePersuade
4What’s the purpose of a news release? Make an announcement of importanceSupport the company’s sales/marketing armPromote an upcoming eventComply with public-company disclosure rulesGet factual information to the news media or directly to customers, shareholders, etc.
5Types of news releases“Hard news” releases - Earnings results, sales updates and other financial news - Leadership changes and other personnel announcements - Employee expansions or layoffs (“strategic realignments”) - Strategic directives; new goals and targets - Acquisitions and mergers - New products, stores or markets - New buildings and expansion of facilities
6Types of news releases“Feature” or “soft” news releases - Product application stories - Personality profiles - Corporate initiatives features (“green” stories, corporate social responsibility features, etc.) - Community relations features (employee volunteer activities in the community, major donations, in-the-schools programs) - Market profiles - Event or holiday-themed stories
7How are news releases distributed? Organizational methods:Corporate and organizational Web sites“Push” alerts and RSS feedsCorporate blogs, Facebook and Twitterand fax distribution lists
8How are news releases distributed? Other distribution channels:Wire distribution services: - PR Newswire, Business Wire, GlobeNewswire, MarketWireOnline information services: - Yahoo Finance, AOL, Bloomberg, CNN, etc.Traditional media (including their Web sites): - Newspapers, magazines, broadcast networks, trade journalsIndependent bloggers
10All about headlines (titles) FIRST FINANCIAL BANK HONORSPAST PRESIDENTS AT CEREMONYHeadlines should be in all caps and bold; do not underlineHeadlines may be slightly larger (optional) pointHeadlines should be centeredHeadlines should NOT be wordyHeadlines should be specific and tied to story’s main pointHeadlines usually include the name of the organization
11All about headlines (titles) FIRST FINANCIAL BANK HONORSPAST PRESIDENTS AT CEREMONYFollow journalistic style (not advertising/marketing)Write in present tenseHeadlines must have an active verbDon’t end with a period and don’t underlineSubheads are optional; when used, format is bold but not all caps, in 12 point font. Some organizations use italics.Headlines are NOT part of the text of the news release; the news release text must be complete and stand on its own.
12What’s wrong with these headlines? XYZ Corp. Grand Opening PlannedGrand Opening Plans AnnouncedXYZ Corp. To Open New Store in Snyder This Summer at Corner of Watkins Road and Market StreetGreat News! XYZ Corp. Announces Plans for Exciting New Amarillo Store
13Formatting news releases: datelines Datelines come immediately prior to the lead sentence.Datelines include the city, state (with exceptions as noted in AP Stylebook), and the date.Cities go uppercase, states are title case.Example: ABILENE, Texas, Feb. 14,
14Formatting news releases: lead paragraphs Lead paragraphs should be short -- one or two sentences is ideal. Tip: If it takes up more than four typed lines, shorten it.Think like a journalist when you write the lead; what is the real news here?Follow the “inverted pyramid” writing style for hard-news releases.Keep it tightly focused on a singular idea or theme that is the main purpose of the story.
15Formatting news releases: lead paragraphs “Write like a journalist would write” but remember this is an organizational news release, not a news story; it’s “us” not “them”Make the lead interesting to read. Get the reader’s attention.Don’t try to answer all the “5 Ws” in the lead or include too many details.
16Comparing leadsJanet Ramano, president and CEO of XYZ, announced today that the company plans to open a store in Amarillo …XYZ announced today that a groundbreaking ceremony would take place next Thursday …XYZ is planning on expanding by opening up a new store in Amarillo at the corner of …XYZ announced today that it plans to open a store in Amarillo, its first in that city …Amarillo is about to get its first XYZ store, the company announced today …
17Formatting a traditional style news release What goes at the bottom of the final page?What goes at the bottom of the first page on a two-page news release?What goes at the top of the second and subsequent pages in a multi-page news release?
18Using quotationsQuotes are typically written by the PR person, not the source.Quotes should SAY SOMETHING and ADD VALUE to the story.Quotes should be strategic and “on message.”Quotes are NOT just filler copy.(continued)
19Using quotations Quotes should sound natural, conversational. Don’t use quotes for stating obvious facts.Quotes must NEVER sound like PR fluff, hype or advertising/marketing copy.Don’t offend your audience or talk down to them.Always start a new paragraph when you start a new quotation.
20Comparing quotations“We are very excited about today’s announcement. We have dreamed for years about building a store in Amarillo and our dreams are finally coming true.”“Amarillo isn’t ready for our ‘A’ level larger format store but we think the people there will be excited to have us in their town, even if the store is a smaller-format version.”“Our objective is to create jobs and boost the economy of Amarillo. This new store will do just that.”“We are pleased to bring an XYZ store to Amarillo and are confident that shoppers there will enjoy our store’s variety and great value.”
21Attribution in quotations Attribution typically comes at the end of the first sentence of the quotation (but there are exceptions).The attribution NEVER comes prior to the quotation.“Said” is the best word to use in attributions. Stick with it.Where possible, follow this order: subject-verb. For example, “Smith said.” But, do what is natural.Don’t use courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.) in attributions unless required by your employer or client, or to avoid confusion among people in the story with the same last name.
22What’s wrong with the attribution in these quotes? “We’re happy to be coming to Amarillo,” exclaimed Mr. King.Fred King, president of Big Deal Developments Co., said: “We’re happy to be coming to Amarillo.”“We’re happy to be coming to Amarillo,” King said.
23The boilerplate paragraph Boilerplate paragraphs are the same on all of the organization’s news releasesBoilerplate paragraphs summarize important facts about a companyBut, they don’t need to include all of the history, lore and trivia about the organizationKeep the paragraph short, but substantiveConclude with a reference to the organization’s Web site
24The boilerplate paragraph XYZ Corp. got its start back in 1926, in a one-room warehouse in Dallas. The Smerkel family, who founded the firm, is still involved in its operations today.XYZ Corp. is based in Dallas and is the largest chain of fine furniture stores in the Southwest. The company has 34 stores and generates annual revenue of $1.2 billion. For more information, please visit our Web site at …
25News releases and Web 2.0News releases can now go directly to consumersNews releases must be written with mass audiences in mindNews releases must be written with the Interenet and search engine optimization (SEO) in mindFormat rules are changingDemand for news releases is growing
26For next class Read Chapter 6, through page 136. Be prepared to write a traditional format news release in class on Wednesday, without notes.