News Release Basics for Writers — Ruth L. Snyder

sample news releaseAny writer who is working on marketing a book or other product should know some basics about news releases. For a quick overview, check out this video.

News releases are short articles that give the major facts of a news story in a style familiar to journalists. That means it should read like a news story:

  • Answers the 5 “W”s (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Written in 3rd person
  • Contains quotes
  • Provides standard information expected in a news release

The purpose of a news release is to catch the interest of an editor so that he or she will want to run a story on you and your writing.

  1. Title: Although this is at the top of your news release, you should write the rough draft of your news release first and then come up with a suitable title. This will save you time, because you will know exactly what your news release is about. You want your title to grab attention as well as summarize what the news item is about. Put the headline in bold type, capitalize the first word, and make sure to include key words from the body of your news release.
  2. Date and city: Insert the date and place where the press release is written (probably where you live). A news release needs to contain relevant and recent news or it will be ignored. If you have a book release party, send out a news release the same week. You can even write your release BEFORE your party and then fill in the fine details afterwards, just before you send it out.
  3. The lead: This is the first sentence of your press release. It should be different from the title, but accomplish the same thing – grab attention and summarize the information.
  4. First paragraph: All of the most important information should be contained in the first paragraph. Journalists are busy people and will only read what catches their attention.
  5. Other paragraphs: Make sure to provide information a reporter needs to write a news story. After you have provided the who, what, where, when, and why answers, fill in the details. This is where you place the quote(s), which could be from your publisher or a reviewer. Keep your news release short and to the point. If a reporter wants more information he or she will contact you. Be careful to focus on the “news” aspect. If you try to advertise, your news release will be rejected. However, it is acceptable to include your website address.
  6. Last paragraph: Use this paragraph to share information directly related to you or your company.
  7. -30-: This indicates the end of the press release.
  8. Contact Information: Always provide information on who to contact for more details. Give a person’s name, address, phone/fax numbers, email address, and website.

You should do some research on where to send your news release. If possible send the news release to specific reporters who cover topics relevant to your writing. It is perfectly acceptable to send the news release by email. A few days after you send the news release, follow up with a phone call.

Any questions? I look forward to hearing your success stories!

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