Some people find the media, and members of the media, intimidating. Even though most people who work in newspapers, radio, or television stations are ordinary people with a daily job, some find it nerve-racking to talk to them. This is especially true when it comes to writing and submitting a press release. Even though the process is a simple one, people often think that everything in the release must be perfect, and perfectly worded, or the media outlet will not accept it. Not true. Here then, are some tips for the average person on how to write and submit a press release to a media outlet, with some thoughts on how it might be publicized.
Most people wanting to write a press release are doing so because of an upcoming event they want to be publicized. Most media outlets have a community calendar where they post such notices free of charge, especially when these events benefit a non-profit organization. The PTA Halloween carnival or Christmas play, the school bake sale, the blood drive, and like events are all usually given consideration for free publicity. Therefore, the person appointed to handle publicity should call local media outlets and speak to someone about the outlet’s policies for these advertisements.
If the media outlet has a Web site, this information will often be available there, but if not, the person can call the outlet and ask to speak with someone in the newsroom, for TV stations and newspapers, specifically the person in charge of posting upcoming events. Radio stations may handle things a bit differently, and a caller should ask for the person who handles public service announcements.
The caller should ask if the media outlet has a free listings policy for non-profit groups, or for community events, when the listings appear in the paper, and what the deadlines are for submitting information. The caller should write this information down. A good rule of thumb is to call three weeks in advance of the event. This should be well ahead of most news deadlines. The best way to annoy a media person is to call the day before the event and want something in the paper or on TV that day.
A caller can rest assured the media rep is going to ask how long the person has known about the event, and when the answer, Three weeks, comes back, the media person is going to say, I’m sorry, but we can’t help you on such short notice. Working with their deadlines makes for a much more pleasant experience. The other action that will thoroughly aggravate a media rep is to say, know you told me what days you could put it in, but couldn’t you run it every day up until the event? Media outlets have a set amount of space or time set aside for these announcements and cannot run something free of charge for three weeks. If they did, there would be no room for anything else.
Once the person knows the deadlines, he can start on the press release. If he is just looking for a mention in the calendar, the release need not be elaborate. It should tell what the event is, what date it is, where it will take place, at what time, admission fee, and include a contact number. If the event is something like a carnival, an additional line might read Games, concessions, children’s activities. This gives the reader a bit more detail about what might be available at the carnival.
If the proceeds from the event will go to a particular cause, that cause should be mentioned, as well. Proceeds will benefit the American Diabetes Association or Proceeds will help the band buy new uniforms whatever the cause is, mention it. A contact number is vital, however. If the media person wants to send a photographer or cameraman, he or she will need someone to contact who is available during the day. Readers/viewers/listeners might also have questions and would like a phone number to call for more information.
If the publicity person would like the media outlet to do a story, he should make some notes on the press release that may be of interest, with an eye to what is newsworthy. We are expecting over 500 people for this event. Proceeds will benefit a local family who lost their home in a fire. A 95-year-old man will be reading his poetry and telling stories.Think of what is really interesting to a large group of people.
When the press release has been submitted, always follow up with a phone call. Did the fax arrive? Did the e-mail arrive? Things can go astray, and if the person submitting the information calls to verify the release arrived, they will have time to re-send it in case it did not get to it’s destination.
Those submitting a press release should mostly concentrate on making certain all pertinent facts concerning the date, time, location, and a contact number are included, and submitted well within the deadlines. This will do more toward getting the event publicized than anything else.submitting a press release