Thursday, November 10, 2005

How to Write a Press Release: Part II

And now, the next exciting installment on how to get the word out…

What To Include

The first thing your press release should include is your contact information. Put “Contact” right at the top right or left side of the first page. Then include your name, phone number, e-mail, and fax number. It is also appropriate to include your mailing address.

Flush left, after your contact information, include the date. This tells editors of the release’s timeliness.

Immediately under your contact information, type “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in all caps, and center it on the page.

Come up with a straightforward title for the release. Don’t be clever or vague. Use present tense and just tell it like it is.

Local Vocalist Receives Awards

The body of the release should be double spaced, with the beginning of each paragraph indented. Or you may choose not to indent the paragraphs and add an extra space between each. Either is acceptable.

Remember your high school journalism classes. Start your release with the most important item of information. Be sure to name the subject of the release and put that subject into context for the reading public. For example:

Inspirational vocalist Sharie Conard, of Bridgman, MI, has been named the 2005 Female Vocalist of the Year for the United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians (USAGEM).

Then proceed to cite the facts that merit mention, in order from most important to least important. Remember to refer to all persons by their surname, as befitting the news media:

Conard also received USAGEM’s Ruby Award, given annually to an individual who has shown outstanding dedication to the organization.

Conard received her awards Friday, November 4, at USAGEM’s annual convention and awards in Nashville, TN.

After a few opening paragraphs citing the news, feel free to include a short, relevant quote. Quotes can help add human interest to what might otherwise be a fairly dry or fact-filled story.

Finally, finish the release with the less crucial pieces of information. Remember, if a release is printed, the editor may decide to use only part of it. Generally, if the press release is cut for space, the last paragraphs are the first to go – so don’t save the best for last!

This is where you can mention what you’ve done in the past, drop the name of your latest book, remind people of past accomplishments, and cite your links to the community:

Conard travels extensively throughout the country giving concerts, speaking, and teaching. In addition to her music ministry, she conducts workshops and seminars on cancer awareness. She is in great demand as a Women’s Ministry presenter.

She has performed onstage at such venues as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, the Blue Gate Theatre in Shipshewana, IN, and the Champaigne Theatre in Branson, MO.

Conard owns Studio I: Hair Designs and More, a full service hair salon in St. Joseph, MI. A medical side of the salon also offers hair and breast prosthetics and serves special people with special needs

In 1998, she was crowned the first ever Mrs. Southwest Michigan. She went on to be named first runner-up in the Mrs. Michigan International™ Pageant. She has been a guest judge and consultant for subsequent pageants.

USAGEM world headquarters are in Nashville, TN. Members are dedicated to enhancing the music and entertainment industries with their talents.

You get the idea.

When you are finished, your press release should not be longer than two pages. One is ideal. The last thing you should do is follow the time-honored tradition of indicating the end of a piece. Center either "-- 30 --" or "# # #" at the end of the release to signify THE END.

… and that’s all there is to it. Now that you know what to include in a press release, tune in tomorrow for suggestions on how to make your press release work harder – so you don’t have to (apologies to the “Scrubbing Bubbles” ad originator!).