Making Business Newsworthy Part 2

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Part 2 of a 3 Part Series
Making Business News Newsworthy:

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In part 1, readers learned how to determine if business news really is news. Click here to view part one.

Part 2: Writing a Capturing News Release

  • Write a release for the public not your company
  • Adhere to the Associated Press Stylebook writing standards
  • Hit readers over the head with a shocking or punchy lead
  • KISS your release, Keep It Simple Stupid
  • Releases should specific to media outlet specialties

Writing Releases for the Public Not Your Company

The best way to explain this is to show an example with comparisons. Below is an example of a lead written with the company in mind:

Anderson Parks is proud to announce the grand opening of its newest park, Green Park, on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. at 2222 Greenway Circle. This marks a park accomplishment for the department in providing more green space without additional staffing costs.

Below is a better take on the same news keeping readers and news reporters in mind:

Residents and visitors will appreciate Green Park, the newest park in Anderson, Fla., because the park’s preserve will provide an up close experience with a number of wildlife including 42 species of birds. On Sept. 12 at 11 a.m., the Anderson Parks Department will host a grand opening for Green Park located at 2222 Greenway Circle.

The second release told the benefits to the reader of the new park up front, whereas the first lead patted the company on the back. Big difference! The media should be able to copy and paste your news release, and when is the last time a newspaper lead a story with text supporting a company?

Adhere to Associated Press Stylebook Writing Standards

The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook acts as a basic guideline for media writing and make it easier for media to use your releases as written. Highlights of those standards are:

  • Numbers are spelled out one to nine
  • Numbers 10 and above use numerals or a combination thereof
  • Months are spelled out if not used with specific dates
  • Abbreviate Jan. Feb. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. if used with specific dates such as Sept. 1, 2010
  • State abbreviations are specific such as Florida is Fla.
  • Abbreviate St., Blvd., Ave. if with the numeric portion of an address such as 2121 Langly Blvd.

More AP writing rules are answered on the Associated Press website. For immediate online access to the AP Stylebook, click here.

Hit Readers Over the Head With Punch Leads

An over-the-top lead can work, but is not for every news release. An example of one that works:

Imagine for a moment a man is flying through your neighborhood wearing a bright red cape and gold leotard, just as you are outside looking up wondering if there is any way to save your home from foreclosure. Kissimmee, Fla. realtor Paul Antonelli is claiming to be a superhero that will help homeowners get out of trouble.

Clearly, this realtor is not a superhero, but playing off the radio show’s superhero logo sets this press release apart. What is not appropriate as a “punchy” lead is: “Shelter X announces it will euthanize 400 animals this week, if more people do not adopt.” That would prompt people to adopt for the wrong reasons. Be clear with your lead what you are calling readers to do.

KISS Your Release, Keep It Simple Stupid

Most of us fail to follow this very basic writing rule. In a press release, do not include every single detail. Highlight important facts including the who, what, when and where of the news item.

Drive readers to websites or social media sites to connect with you and learn more there.

For contests or deadline-oriented news, always, always, always send out at least three press releases starting four to six weeks in advance.

The first press release of four for Challenge to Change, a weight loss contest with cosmetic surgery as the grand prize, provides basic sign up information and a lot of details.

Subsequent releases will be briefer focusing on contest benefits and deadlines to increase media exposure.

Releases Should Be Specific to Media Outlet Specialties

If you are sending press release to a children’s magazine, the writing should be softer and generally child-focused. The Superhero Realtor press release above, for example would need rewritten as:

Kissimmee-based Realtor Paul Antonelli is hoping his new radio show will save children and families from becoming homeless by providing assistance to families in danger of home foreclosure.

If a magazine you want to have your news published in does not publish long articles, then it may be best to send a personal email to a writer at the magazine instead. This may get you further than a press release.

The final part of the 3-part series for Making Your Business News Newsworthy covers: How to Send a Press Release. If you have questions, click this link to email DREAMFly Marketing.

About Camden Smith

Camden Smith has written 77 posts for Marketing Magnetics.

Camden Smith owns DREAMFly Marketing with 16 years in strategic marketing and television journalism. Her cutting-edge, aggressive marketing skills have earned her numerous awards. Smith lives in Naples, Florida with her daughter London.