Press Release Tips
Press releases have two purposes:
1. Telling the news story with enough detail it could be published word-for-word.
2. Selling the story to the reporter/editor so they will give the story coverage.
Tips for writing a press release:
- Your press release should answer these questions:
- Who = who is presenting the program, who is the performer, etc.
- What = what is the name of the program or cause for the press release
- When = date and time
- Where = which branch, location in branch
- Why = what’s the reason, what’s so important about this program or situation
- Write journalistically
- Get straight to the point. Put the most important information at the top and explain or unwind to the least important at the bottom.
- Use short paragraphs.
- Use active voice, not passive voice.
- Avoid hype and clichés.
- Don’t use library jargon.
- The release should always be in third person – no using I, we, you, etc. except in direct quotes.
- Use quotes to add flavor, detail, to strengthen your point, or to give life to your article. Think about the questions a reporter might ask and what your response would be, in conversational language.
- Any claims or opinions should be in direct or indirect quotes only.
- Anyone who is quoted should be identified by name and title.
- If you use statistics, cite your source.
- Try to keep your release to 1-2 pages.
- Write your headline last. State your most exciting information in as few words as possible for the headline; emulate headlines you would see in a newspaper. The headline is to hook the reader – in this case, the reporter/editor, so they don’t throw our release straight into the recycling bin.
Succeeding with your press release:
- Pay attention to your local media. What kind of stories do they cover? How are they reported?
- Find out how the media organization prefers press releases to be submitted (By email? If so, will they accept an attached Word document or should it be in the body of an email?)
- Try to send directly to the reporter who covers the topic at hand.
- If there’s a calendar of events / event listing in your newspaper or on their website, look for the direct content to submit listings. Send listings for all your programs (including story times) on at least a monthly basis.
- Find out their deadlines – how far in advance do you need to send in your release to promote an event?
- If you’ve got something really big, pitch it first – call the reporter and tell them your story idea, then follow up with the press release.
- Best time to call is in the morning.
- Don’t pitch to more than one reporter per news organization.
- Don’t call to ask if they received your release.
- Find out if you can submit photos and the best way to do so.
- Look for local angles on national stories.
- Develop a marketing message. What’s your brand? Communicate it consistently in your news releases.
Do you want to learn more about plants and gardening? Come to one of the library’s new Plant and Nature classes!
This is better:
Linebaugh Library wants to help make Rutherford County more green. Gardeners new and old can learn more about plants, insects, and other do-it-yourself gardening topics by attending Linebaugh Public Library’s free Plant and Nature classes.
Your local public library system is strapped for financial support. Linebaugh Public Library System (LPLS) is much larger compared to other libraries in our region, yet, nationally, the per capita funding is about $32.00, the average in the region is $9.33, LPLS is $8.84. The population is rising much faster than the funding. Brentwood is about $65.00 per capita, Nashville is about $50.00 per capita. Due to that lack of funding, LPLS does NOT meet state minimum standards in several categories including facilities and personnel.
This is better:
Rutherford County’s public library system is strapped for financial support. Because of inadequate funding, Linebaugh Public Library System (LPLS) does not meet state minimum standards in several categories—some of them are basic, like facilities and personnel.
In America, libraries receive about $32 in funding per person; Tennessee libraries receive about half that amount. LPLS’s per capita funding is meager by comparison: the library system received less than $9 per person in its 2008-09 budget year. Neighboring library systems in Nashville received about $50 per person, and Brentwood was allocated $65.
Many patrons read popular authors during the Winter Reading Program. You may think your neighbor’s favorite pastime is gardening, but he’s probably reading a book by James Patterson or Stuart Woods. Escapists quietly populate Middle Tennessee.
This is better:
“Storytellers, spinners of yarns; these are people who show us who we are, and who want to be,” said Dave O’Flaherty, coordinator of Linebaugh’s Winter Reading Program. “In Rutherford County, the novelist is supreme. You may think your neighbor’s favorite pastime is pottering around in the garden, but in the wee hours of the night, they’re unmasking conspiracies, solving murders, and engaging in political intrigue with James Patterson, Stuart Woods, and Vince Flynn. Escapists quietly populate Middle Tennessee.”
Now you try: Use the exercise attached to write a press release
See attached example of a final press release from the Linebaugh Library System
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