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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

27 January 2004 Issue

How To Compose A News Release
By Bob Nixon Ph.D.

Month 00, 200_


Contact:  John Smith 233 555 1212


This is the format for a news release (sometimes refereed to as a press release).  Note the short paragraphs and simple words.  Here are some tips for writing great releases.

1.    Keep the release to one page.  Media people get dozens of news releases every day.  Make yours easy to read with short graphic paragraphs.  Use a #12 font.

2.    In your first paragraph, give the main details.  Remember the journalistic “What, who, where, when, how,” However, use a tabloid technique to get their attention.

3.    In writing your text, remember to use text designed to ignite, penetrate, and get attention.  For instance, instead of writing, “Jones has beaten his child before, but the judge still said the child had to be returned to him.”  Write, “Judge Kelly, unconcerned with the child's welfare, ignored previous beatings and ordered her returned to her abusive father.”  Notice how the second example is much harder hitting and paints the judge as uncaring and unprofessional.

If you would like to make a comment but donut know how to work it in, consider quoting someone.  In some cases, writers design a statement and then ask someone they know if it would be OK to use their name in quoting.  For example, let's say you wanted to blast the judge in the above statement.  You could “quote” someone. e.g., A neighbor, Mary Wilson, as being afraid for the child's life.  Write: “That man has beaten that poor girl time and again.  Its just a matter of time before he kills her.  What kind of a screwball judge is this?” remarked Wilson after the hearing.

You see how this allows you to make powerful statements and do so in a way that is stronger and often more credible than a simple text paragraph.

Send your news release via fax to the assignment editor when sending to radio or television and to the news room editor when sending to newspapers.  You do not have to know the editor's name. Send as soon as you feel the media should be informed.  If possible, send Sunday evening so they are waiting when staff arrives Monday morning.  In general, it's best to send your releases late at night for recovery early the next morning (and the lines are less busy late at night).

Send your release on letterhead stationary if you are sending on behalf of a group.  If you do not have a group use plain stationary.  If you belong to a small group and have no letterhead stationary, you can devise one using your word processor.  After your last line of text, double space down and sign off like this:

                                                             # # # # # # # # #

[email protected]

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