By now (Monday) you should have received my feedback on "Westland" & "Evita" assignment, and later you'll have your "Feature" feedback as well.

Top Ten Takeaways for Lesson Four

(These takeaways are the essence of Lesson Four to help you meet your Wednesday midnight deadline.
Click on each link below and read for further instruction about the Product release.)

  1. There are several types of press release that you need to know about. The first major distinction is between releases where you control the timing -- and releases where you don't. Read here about Types of Releases.
  2. The most common type of press release is the Announcement Release. That's the one where you control the timing. The press conference happens on the day you choose ... or you choose to release the "Evita" announcement on March 15, not March 8, because -- oh I don't know -- maybe there's a parade on March 8 and you don't feel like competing for news that day.
  3. The Product Release is a special type of announcement release. You control the timing, yes. But the story is not about an event you're planning -- it's about a product you're selling. The editor's attitude will be: "I print news. You want to sell something, buy an ad." Before he has a chance to form an attitude, you need to position your product as news.
  4. A news story is better than an ad -- by far! When you buy advertising, you get good placement and control of your message. But your credibility is far better if your message is delivered in a news story on page one, with a lively headline and a color photo.
  5. A product release is written "backwards" so the editor doesn't throw it away as a cheap marketing ploy. Even though you're still using the inverted pyramid, your text goes from the general to the specific.
  6. "Backwards" means don't mention the brand in the headline or lead. One less clue for the editor who might suspect you're asking her for a free ad. If your release looks like a product promotion flier, why should she entertain it for a minute?
  7. Your lead should pose a challenge of some kind -- a situation that requires a response. It might sketch out a problem to be solved, or a need to be supplied. This can be a brief sentence, or it might take a paragraph to set the stage. Go back and read through the different types of press release lead that may be useful.
  8. In the second paragraph, you can provide the answer -- but even then, you don't have to mention the brand name. Make the point that someone has developed something interesting that fills a need -- and take your time about naming the brand name. All the more likely that the story will be read on its own merits, and not because of a specific manufacturer.
  9. It bears repeating: you do NOT identify the brand name or other promotional information in your lead. Editors print news, not poorly disguised ads. and remember that you're writing for an audience beyond the media of Turtle Bay.
  10. Read more about the Product Release before beginning the assignment for this lesson. You will save yourself a lot of rewrite time if you plan first -- and if you stop to figure out what exactly is the product of this product release.

    The "Ten Takeaways" are your fast track to understanding and completing this lesson's work, but for a deeper understanding you need to read further and in greater detail about each subject we cover. Click "Continue" to access Lesson Four details.