Public Relations Writing: Lesson #4 - p. 5


Dates, Times, etc. in Event Releases

    When rewriting your "Evita" release and other entertainment or similar event releases, there is a convention that you'll find useful. (This is not an A.P. Stylebook tip – it's an A.M. tip – Alton Miller)

    Save your time, price and related details for the final paragraph. This means that you can keep the flow going smoothly, talking about the part that people find interesting – and save the details for the end, after you've made your point.

    For example, which of these leads is more inviting --

      This week a local heavy metal rock star will team up with an elegant, classically-trained soprano, when the Turtle Bay Theater Society begins rehearsals for the rock opera "Evita." Tickets are now on sale for next month's opening of the award-winning musical by the duo who also wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar."

    Hint: that was the good one ... compare with this one:

      Beginning March 6, a local heavy metal rock star will team up with an elegant, classically-trained soprano, when the Turtle Bay Theater Society begins rehearsals for the rock opera "Evita." Tickets, priced at $10, go on sale for the April 19 opening of the award-winning musical by the duo who also wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar."

    In the second example, the dates and price are a distraction. (Well, maybe not the price – not if that's part of your angle, which it could conceivably be, for instance if you are making the point that $10 is a bargain for a rock concert.) These details interrupt the flow of your lead. Fortunately, editors have learned to expect all the essential details in a special paragraph at the end of your release.

    In fact, they prefer it. Many publications have their own style for listing the essential details – they'll put them in a box floating somewhere in the text of the story, or they'll put them in italics at the end, or just after the title. If you group this stuff in a final paragraph it will be easy for editors to format it their own way.

    Whatever you do, don't get clever and melt the info into different paragraphs. Don't distribute the information in such a way that you have the dates in the first paragraph, the address woven into the second paragraph, the show times in the third, etc.... That will require the editor to root it out. You want to eliminate reasons for the editor to discard your story, not create them, right?

    So the final paragraph of the "Evita" release might look like this –

      "Evita" rehearsals begin March 9. Preview Wed., April 18. Performances Thurs.-Sun., April 19-29, at the Hale Hall Theater Center, Westland College. Show times Thurs., Fri., Sat. 8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. matinees 2:30 p.m. All tickets $10. Box office open Tues.- Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. 309-333-9900.

    Notice that this isn't even grammatical – that is, you don't need complete sentences, so long as your meaning is clear. Notice that I observed A.P. style for this information, and you should too – remember, A.P. style provides for abbreviation of days of the week in tabulations -- like this special paragraph.

    This approach is intended for entertainment releases only. It wouldn't hurt to use it for releases like "From the Heart," but you can't count on editors knowing to look for the final graf. Entertainment editors, on the other hand, have come to expect it.

    Go on to the next page for the assignment


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