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TacticsPublic relations professionals have a vast array of tactics up their sleeves to help businesses, brands and organizations achieve communications goals. For example, press conferences, deskside media tours and informal media meetings.

Perhaps the best-known tactic to non-public relations folks is the news release.

Often, however, people confuse a news release with other tactics, including calendar listings, story pitches, photo captions and media advisories.

So, here is an overview of exactly what a news release is...

A news release is a document sent on behalf of an organization to targeted media to announce something newsworthy. These days, they are often sent via email. There are two important factors in determining if your information should be shared via news release:

  • Is it new? Generally a news release must contain something “new,” meaning the announcement of a new event, new brand, new product, new business, new award or new program.
  • Is it actual news? Meaning, is it timely? Is it relevant? Does it have human interest? Does it explore a trend?

A news release needs a headline.  This is basically the title of your news release. It needs to be short, sweet and to the point.

A news release also needs a subject line. This is what you put in the subject line of the email and can be a little more exciting than the general headline.

The body of a news release should be to the point – explaining the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how” without jargon, overly flowery language or hyperbole. It should also share the above in order of importance, meaning you must determine which of the Five Ws (and H) should appear first in your text.

A news release should have contact information for the media, allowing them to follow-up for interview, video, photos, et al.

... and what it isn't.

A news release should avoid canned quotes. A good rule of thumb – if the quote doesn’t say something new, or simply says the source is “excited” or “proud,” don’t use it.

A news release should only be sent to media who are a fit for the news. For example, do not send the announcement of a new bank to a food reporter. Or if there is no video or visual component, do not send the news release to television media.

A news release should never just mass emailed to a thousand members of the media. It should be customized and targeted to individuals based on actual research.

A news release should never be sent if you aren’t available for interview or questions immediately and based on the media’s deadline(s).

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

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