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News Releases. PR Writing Abilene Christian University. Origins of the news release. Ivy Lee – First news release – Pennsylvania Railroad, 1906; printed word-for-word in The New York Times.

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News releases

News Releases

PR Writing

Abilene Christian University

Origins of the news release
Origins 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.

What s the purpose of a news release
What’s the purpose of a news release?

Strategic purposes: Inform



What s the purpose of a news release1
What’s the purpose of a news release?

  • Make an announcement of importance

  • Support the company’s sales/marketing arm

  • Promote an upcoming event

  • Comply with public-company disclosure rules

  • Get factual information to the news media or directly to customers, shareholders, etc.

Types of news releases
Types 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

Types of news releases1
Types 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

How are news releases distributed
How are news releases distributed?

Organizational methods:

  • Corporate and organizational Web sites

  • “Push” e-mail alerts and RSS feeds

  • Corporate blogs, Facebook and Twitter

  • E-mail and fax distribution lists

How are news releases distributed1
How are news releases distributed?

Other distribution channels:

  • Wire distribution services:- PR Newswire, Business Wire, GlobeNewswire, MarketWire

  • Online information services:- Yahoo Finance, AOL, Bloomberg, CNN, etc.

  • Traditional media (including their Web sites):- Newspapers, magazines, broadcast networks, trade journals

  • Independent bloggers

All about headlines titles
All about headlines (titles)



  • Headlines should be in all caps and bold; do not underline

  • Headlines may be slightly larger (optional) -- 14 point

  • Headlines should be centered

  • Headlines should NOT be wordy

  • Headlines should be specific and tied to story’s main point

  • Headlines usually include the name of the organization

All about headlines titles1
All about headlines (titles)



  • Follow journalistic style (not advertising/marketing)

  • Write in present tense

  • Headlines must have an active verb

  • Don’t end with a period and don’t underline

  • Subheads 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.

What s wrong with these headlines
What’s wrong with these headlines?

  • XYZ Corp. Grand Opening Planned

  • Grand Opening Plans Announced

  • XYZ Corp. To Open New Store in Snyder This Summer at Corner of Watkins Road and Market Street

  • Great News! XYZ Corp. Announces Plans for Exciting New Amarillo Store

Formatting news releases datelines
Formatting 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, 2010 --

Formatting news releases lead paragraphs
Formatting 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.

Formatting news releases lead paragraphs1
Formatting 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.

Comparing leads
Comparing leads

  • Janet 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 …

Formatting a traditional style news release
Formatting 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?

Using quotations
Using quotations

  • Quotes 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.


Using quotations1
Using 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.

Comparing quotations
Comparing 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.”

Attribution in quotations
Attribution 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.

What s wrong with the attribution in these quotes
What’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.

The boilerplate paragraph
The boilerplate paragraph

  • Boilerplate paragraphs are the same on all of the organization’s news releases

  • Boilerplate paragraphs summarize important facts about a company

  • But, they don’t need to include all of the history, lore and trivia about the organization

  • Keep the paragraph short, but substantive

  • Conclude with a reference to the organization’s Web site

The boilerplate paragraph1
The 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 …

News releases and web 2 0
News releases and Web 2.0

  • News releases can now go directly to consumers

  • News releases must be written with mass audiences in mind

  • News releases must be written with the Interenet and search engine optimization (SEO) in mind

  • Format rules are changing

  • Demand for news releases is growing

For next class
For next class

Read Chapter 6, through page 136.

Be prepared to write a traditional format news release in class on Wednesday, without notes.