Download a printable copy of the Message
Planner. (If you don't have Adobe Acrobat, which you will need to
read and print this document, you may download Acrobat for free by
The Message Planner is the PR writer's principal pre-writing tool.
It is also a good way for a PR professional to keep track of work for various
After you've identified your client, the project you're working
on, and the date you began, specify the objective of this PR
writing -- that is, what do you want people to do, once they've
been successfully targeted by your message?
Then list the 5 W's -- who, what, where, when and why/how -- the basic
information of your story.
Why/how will lead you into a consideration of many Key Ideas... list as
many as you can think of, here and on to the back of the page.
What's the angle? Think like an editor -- what makes your material newsworthy?
The "6th W" is "So What?"
Now take your first shot at lining up the points you'll make, paragraph
by paragraph. Don't worry, this is still preliminary -- after you're clear
on your message, you'll sharpen these points.
Think visually. If your story plays on TV, what is the picture you want
people to get? Knowing that image will help you paint a verbal picture
in the words of your release.
Finally, What's the message? Start by asking yourself, What's the headline?
Then go on to draft the 20-second soundbite you will want people to carry
away from this news item.
Remember, there's nothing mystical about this process. You can do it in
any order -- message first, or angle first, whatever works for you. The
idea is to get you jump-started. Just make sure you touch all the bases.