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News Releases, Newsletters, and Brochures

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  1. News Releases, Newsletters, and Brochures Chapter 14

  2. The News Release • Also still known as press releases, news releases are the most commonly used public relations tactic • They date back to Ivy Lee in 1906 (Pennsylvania railroad client) • A news release is a simple document whose primary purpose is the dissemination of information to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines • A high percentage of articles in newspapers come in some way from news releases • Up to 50 percent of Wall Street Journal articles have news release origins • 75 percent of journalists said the used PR sources for their stories, according to one study

  3. Meeting the Media Needs • The media rely on news releases for many reasons: • Reporters and editors today spend more time processing info than collecting it • No media operation has enough staff to cover every single event in the community • Consequently much of the more routine news in a newspaper is PR-provided or has PR origins

  4. Judging News Releases • The news media have no obligation to run news releases sent them • Releases are judged solely on newsworthiness, timeliness, interest to the readers, and other traditional news values • So to have a chance of being used, releases must be formatted correctly, be well written and contain accurate and timely information

  5. Short succinct headlines and subheads to highlight main points and pique interest Descriptive and creative words to grab attention Avoid hype, exaggeration and over-promotion If your company is not a household name, focus on the news in headline/lead Focus on how your announcement affects industry Critique by asking “Who cares?” Why should readers be interested? Don’t use lame quotes. Write like people speak– avoid “corporatese” that editors love to ignore Look for creative ways to tie your announcement in with current news or trends. Follow the AP Stylebook Don’t expect editors to print entire release—put most important info in first two paragraphs Newsworthy News Releases

  6. Releases must have direction and purpose– consider these questions as putting one together: • What is the key message? • Who is the primary audience for the release? • What does the target audience gain from the product, service, event, or distinction? • What objective does the release serve? • Is it to increase product sales, to increase attendance, to enhance rep?

  7. The 5 Ws and H of Journalism • Who, what, when, where, why and how • Think like a journalist and write a well-crafted news story that answers these basic questions • Write in “inverted pyramid” style with a basic summary lead, followed by information in descending order of importance • With this formula, editors can evaluate the release in the first three or four sentences • Also, editors cut stories from the bottom • Also, people often don’t read the entire story

  8. Writing the release • Use Associated Press (AP) style • Be concise • Avoid clichés, jargon, embellishment, exaggeration, gush • Double-check all information • Include organization background (boilerplate)—this is a short graf, a thumbnail sketch of what the organization does, makes, is about, etc • Localize whenever possible • Review Sunkist “Take a Stand” Release (p.370)

  9. Format and content can be somewhat different for emailed and online releases An emailed news release, for example, would be single-space Contact info would be at bottom, not top Make subject line specific to what release is about Entire release should be no more than 200 words, in five short paragraphs Use bullet points to convey key points Never send a news release as an attachment—journalists may not open due to virus concerns “Write like you have 10 seconds to make a point. Because online, you do.” E-releases can be emailed to journalists, posted on organization’s website page or newsroom, and distributed via electronic news services Internet News Release Format

  10. Media Alerts/Media Advisories • Different in format than news releases • Media alerts use short, bulleted items rather than long paragraphs • Usually consists of a headline, contact info and bulleted Who, What, When, Where • Media alerts are often accompanied by the more formal news release

  11. Media kits/Press kits • These are often prepared for major events and new product launches • Purpose is to give editors and reporters a variety of information and resources that make it easier for the reporter to write about the topic • Kit contents: news release; fact sheet; background info; photos and drawings; biographical info; basic brochures; a news feature about the product/service

  12. Pitch letters • These are short letters or notes written to editors and other media gatekeepers to try to grab their attention • These are more personal, and are addressed to specific reporters/editors • Pitch letters can be mailed, e-mailed, faxed, or the pitch can be done in person or on the telephone

  13. “Mat” Feature Releases • Called “mat” because they were sent in mat or camera ready form • Today, distributed as word docs, jpegs, pdfs, and other ways • The concept of these “canned features” is to provide helpful consumer info and tips about a variety of subjects in an informative way, mentioning sponsoring group only briefly • See Purina Pet Care example, p. 375– reads and looks like a feature page in a newspaper

  14. Distributing media materials • Mail—still liked by journalists for unsolicited PR materials that is not as time sensitive • Fax—still used when people want to quickly get a copy of a document instead of having to download it • E-mail—reporter/editor favorite; subject line key • Electronic news services (such as PR Newswire and Business Wire) • Web newsrooms—most major organizations have a press or newsroom as part of their websites

  15. Newsletters and Magazines • Typically, a newsletter is four to eight pages and printed on 8.5-by-11 paper • Usually have short articles, few graphics • Employee newsletters typically report promotions, employee/company achievements, upcoming events/workshops/training sessions/seminars, policy announcements • Purpose is to make employees feel they are being informed of company affairs

  16. Company Magazines • Considered the “apex” of organizational publications • Are the most expensive, elaborate in terms of color, graphics, paper stock and design • Accenture’s glossy mag has an annual budget of $700,000; Boeing spends $500,000 on its quarterly magazine • E-zines are popular online versions that have the advantage of instant dissemination of information to employees or members via a listserv

  17. Brochures (aka pamphlets, leaflets, booklets) • Are used primarily to give information about an organization, product, service • They are handed out to potential customers, placed on info racks, handed out at conferences, and generally distributed to anyone who wants basic information • PR people often write brochure content but work with designers and printers to make the final product