Writing A Newspaper Press Release

How to write press releases that newspaper editors will print.

Local papers constantly seek copy to fill their hungry pages. Yet, a lot of people can't seem to write a news release a hometown editor will print. But, there is hope if you want to push a new business in town or just tout your child's sports team accomplishments. Here's what I've found busy editors look for.

The first thing you should know is what goes into a standard press release. If you've ever heard journalists discuss their trade, you've heard them use the words who, what, when, where, and why. Make sure you hit all of these concepts when you write your press release. For example,

"After a year of record sales in his first establishment, Ted Jones of Ted's Hot-dog Stand opened his second restaurant on June 15 on the corner of Blain and Oak. He hopes to triple his sales in the new location." There. You've hit all the pertinent facts. Now expand upon them. Tell a little bit about the history of Ted's Hot-dog Stand, for instance. Give a reader a reason to read the item.

But, don't stop there. If the five w's are the only points you write about, harried editors may just see your story as a blatant case of advertising only and may refuse to run it for that reason.

So what can you do to enhance your chance of publication? Add a newsworthy point to the release. Did Ted say he'd give ten cents from the price of each hot dog to the local food bank? That would make the story newsworthy and highly increase its chances of seeing print.

When you've covered the item you want to push and added a newsworthy tidbit, stop. Close your piece. Two or three double-spaced pages, or about 500 to 700 words, is a good length for submission to a local paper.

How do you "design" your press release? One standard format is to print your name, address and phone number in the upper left hand corner of the page, single spaced. Drop a few spaces down and type in the words "Press Release", centered. Two spaces down, type "For Immediate Release", also centered. Two or three spaces down, centered, type your proposed headline. Drop four more spaces down and begin your text, indenting the beginning of each paragraph about five spaces. Always double-space your copy and print it on one side of the page only.

Now, how do you submit your press release? Many small-town newspapers accept only hard-copy releases--that is old-fashioned print on white paper. So be ready to print your piece and mail it via the U.S. Postal Service. Fold the manuscript in thirds and use a Number 10 white

business envelope. Be sure to keep a copy of your article for your records. Newspaper editors receive hundreds of press releases every year, so don't expect an acknowledgment of receipt.

Just watch the pages of your local paper to see when your release is run. Home-town newspaper editors are always on the look out for good copy to fill their pages. If you can write a good press release with the extra value of newsworthiness, there is no reason that your words won't see print in the next edition.

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