10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Today’s News Release

Are your news releases relics of the
 typewriter era?

More journalists than ever before are now using social media to source, research and write their stories. As PR News reported in June 2012, a survey of 600 journalists by Oriella found that more than half (55%) use social channels such as Twitter and Facebook to find stories from known sources, and 43% verify existing stories using those social platforms. That’s why it’s important to have a social media-ready press release, so journalists will take notice of your news.

Keeping in mind this sea change from traditional releases of yore—which are more than likely ignored, deleted or never seen by today’s journalists and other important stakeholders—here are 10 Do’s and Don’ts for crafting news releases:

  • DON’T: Write long, verbose sentences telling the story. Get to the heart of the matter in both the headline and first graph. Think of the headline as a good Twitter pitch.
  • DO: Include a main image that tells your story. A reporter just might take that image and post it on their news site or blog.
  • DON’T: Use “inside baseball” jargon, unless your release is aimed at a highly targeted audience (in which case you probably should use another platform other than a news release to get the story out).
  • DO: Use quotes in your release from key influencers pertaining to your story. These can be linked to search engines and posted via Twitter and Facebook.
  • DON”T: Use clichés, generalizations or superlatives. Check out this PR News article on the “25 Most Overused Words and Phrases in Press Releases,” and be sure to read the Comments section at the bottom.
  • DO: Add links to research, facts, statistics or trends that could be helpful to the journalist writing the story. Take it from a PR News editor/reporter: Fresh, compelling data gets our attention.
  • DON’T: Use news@yourcompany.com as a contact. Use a real person, and add their social profiles.
  • DO: Make the release available in an RSS news feed. Most savvy reporters depend on feeds for story ideas.
  • DON’T: Leave out links to supporting materials like charts, slide decks, PDFs, infographics or whitepapers.
  • DO: Include case histories and/or human interest stories, and link to their sources for more information.

Finally, a bonus "do": Stay current on social media trends and tools, because there's a good chance reporters will discover them and use them.

Follow Scott Van Camp:

9 responses to “10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Today’s News Release

  1. These are all great tips and easy to apply. I can especially relate to the pics – usually send them on request but this is a more efficient way of managing things. Thanks for this article!

  2. Scott these are all fantastic rules to follow when creating a news blast. I am new to the PR world as a nontraditional student but I am becoming vastly aware that keeping up on technology and social media is a must in this field. Thank you for your insight and information. I will take it to heart when doing future news releases as I hope to one day work within a nonprofit organization and I know this information will be the key on getting the message out. Thank you.

  3. Another tip: Your lead should state how your news will make a difference to your customers/ other stakeholders. It should explain why your new development matters to them (and not why it matters to your company/organization).

  4. Thanks for sharing. Helpful info and like the idea of including a photo.

  5. I always email a good pic if I know the reporter fairly well and am sure my email address is on their “cleared” list. Attachments trigger spam filters. To avoid that with reporters I don’t know well, I include a link to a Flickr page with hi & lo res versions of the pic, the copyright info, and a descriptive caption.

  6. Not to be a smart, but proofread should be on this list. In fact, I’d recommend a verbal proofread with a trusted peer. I bet you “don”t” see all the typos yourself. ;)

  7. You don’t mention embargos. The trouble with Twitter etc as way to get a story out is that you can’t embargo it. I tend to Tweet after the story is out, not before.

  8. Thank you for sharing. I just wondered whether those tips could be implemented in medical and healthcare’s news release since there are many things that important to be explained clearly?

  9. How do you feel about sharing a Cision account for contacts and PR distribution?

Comments are closed.