Public Relations Writing: Lesson #2 - p. 1

Planning your Press Release

Now that you've tried your hand at a press release, you see why it's important to plan your work before you start.

Some stories are more interesting than others. You glance at the headlines and something catches your eye. You read the first paragraph and you get the gist of the story. You make an unconscious decision -- "That's all I need to know about that," or "Hmmm -- tell me more."

And then you settle in to read the story... or you turn the page.

That's what editors do when they get your release -- a quick glance tells them all they need to know. That's why we pay so much attention to the lead paragraph.

Three elements of a good press release lead:

  1. The 5 W's (main points of the story, what the reader wants to know). Good writing is good storytelling. Good writers zoom in on the heart of the story.

  2. The News Angle -- what makes the story unusual. (what the editor needs). If you can't demonstrate that it's newsworthy, it might be good writing but it's not effective PR writing.

  3. The Message (your client's requirement)... Just as in advertising, in PR you are always promoting something -- that's your profession.

This is one of the differences between straight journalism and PR writing. Straight news does not require a "message" -- the main points of the story are the message. In fact, in news reporting the writing is tainted if the reporter is actively trying to send you a "message."

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