Graphic: Icon of a megaphone

Getting on the News: Writing a Press Release

I recently made a statement that if I was in charge of anything, I’d issue a press release for everything.  I am a firm believer (and I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that backs me up) that getting the media’s attention or paying for advertising is the key to success when it comes to getting clients, customers, donors, and supporters.

Yes, even in today’s modern world where the local news are reporting on stories that happened in Tallahassee and airing stupid cat videos off of YouTube that have no value whatsoever to us, you should still write a press release.

Here are my suggestions for creating press releases:

  1. Keep it concise – Don’t write a novel.  It should be just a few paragraphs.  The most important information should be first.
  2. Catch their attention – Use action verbs and descriptive language.  If you have a lot of “is”es and “was”es and that means you are using linking verbs. Make it interesting to read and think about.  One of my friends said, “Write it like a news story to get a news story.”
  3. Make it mean something – Why should the person who picks up the press release care? Don’t think about the end user.. the person who will see/hear/read the story. Yes, they are important, but if you convince the writers/assignment editors/tv folks on why it’s worth doing a story, you have one.
  4. Follow the format – If you use the template, you can’t fail.

It’s not as daunting as you think.  Reporters are always looking for stories to report on.

If you can build personal relationships with reporters, that’s even better.  Nurture those relationships.  I had started one with a very prominent local reporter and let it go because I got too busy with my job.

Also, I feel it is important to add that an invitation to attend is not a press release.  If you want people to come to an event, make it sound like a news story.  (Rookie mistake)

I don’t believe in giving advice/information without tools so with that, here are the emails of the local newsdesks to which you will submit your press releases.  (A side note: attach it to the email but also paste it in the body of the email.  You should do this for lots of things.  But that’s for another day)  I also included an example press release we submitted for a fundraiser we hosted for one of my friends.

Template

PDF (Strictly for informational purposes) acrobat

press-release

Word (The actual template) word

press-release

 

Local media outlets

Fox4KC WDAF: news@wdaftv4.com
KCTV5: newsdesk@kctv5.com
KMBC 9: news@KMBC.com
KSHB 41 Action News: Try filling out their web form at http://www.kshb.com/contact-us

KPRS Hot 103 Jamz: community@kprs.com
(I don’t listen to any other stations so sorry… Google it)

KC Star: The Star is tricky.  You have to sign up for an account on Press Release Central and then copy and paste the text of your release.  But you can add a photo!

The Pitch Weekly: Good luck. Try filling out their web form at http://posting.pitch.com/kansascity/ContactUs/Page

Need a website?

There are many factors that go into building a good-looking, functional website:

  • Structure/Function – How is it built and what purpose will it serve? People won’t look at it if they can’t figure it out.
  • Design – What branding and colors will you use? People won’t look at it if it’s ugly.
  • Content – What will you be putting on your site? Strictly information?  Media?  News?  Whatever you decide, people won’t look at it if you don’t update it regularly (if that is what site set up requires).
  • Capacity – Do you have the time, money, energy, and staff to update the website or are you doing it all yourself?  If it’s too much to handle, you won’t update it and guess what: people won’t look at it.
  • Audience – Who will be using your website?  Does it need to have different tones, designs, or content for specific users?  If people don’t’ find any value or use in your website, they won’t look at it.

The hidden/underlying costs of building a website

Building a website includes more than just purchasing your www.  In addition to the domain name (the address people type in to get to your website), you may also need to purchase hosting (the space where your website is located), a template or theme (the design/physical layout of your website, add-on apps or plugins, and so on.  It is important to keep your budget in mind when you are planning your website.  The good news is you don’t need hundreds of dollars to build a website.

All hosts and services are not created equal

Platforms like Wix and Weebly, commonly referred to as “drag-n-drop” builders, may work for some and not for others.  In my humble opinion, I think you can instantly tell the quite obviously difference when you go to a professionally-built site and one that was put together using one of these sites unless some serious thought is put into it.

 

What type of website will I need?

Infographic: What type of website do I need?

So, do you need a website?  Holla at me!