5 Steps to Writing Effective Press Releases

5 Steps to Writing Effective Press ReleasesChalking sidewalks, blitzing the campus with posters, tapping into social media. These are tried-and-true methods to publicize your student club or organization on campus. But have you considered a wider audience—the community outside of the university via newspapers, radio and TV?

Why should you bother? After all, your membership comes from within the campus. However, there are a few reasons an organization might want to expand its reach to the media and beyond university boundaries:

  • The publicity makes the community aware of the good things you’re doing, and this can help you get more gigs. If you become known for having an interest in the broader community, people will come to you with other project ideas.
  • If your group is part of a national organization, publicity outside of the campus is sometimes an extra bonus that national wants its student chapters to achieve.
  • It brings good vibes from the community to your alma mater.

So how do you get your group noticed by local newspapers and broadcast outlets? The press release is the perfect tool for telling the story of your club or organization.


5 Press Release Writing Tips

Keep it simple, silly

The press release should be no more than about 400 words long. Busy editors and producers don’t have time to slog through long narratives, so you have only a few seconds to hook them.

Finish early

Send out the press release at least a week before your event happens. That way, if the newspaper or TV station wants to cover it, they can send a reporter and photographer. You might even be invited to appear on a TV morning show to talk about it.

Stay to the point

Get to the point quickly—in your first paragraph. Write a quick summary concerning your event in the first paragraph that answers most, if not all, of the 5 Ws—who, what, where, when and why. Less important details can come later in the press release.

Don’t be boring!

Highlight an interesting, active, visual event. An organization being chartered on campus will not catch an editor’s or producer’s eye. But he or she might be interested if your group is helping feed the homeless or building playhouses for children of military families.

Spellcheck

Be sure your release is free of grammatical errors, misspellings and other distractions. Ask a professor or friend to proofread it. Remember, an extra set of eyes never hurts when it comes to catching errors.

Following these guidelines might not guarantee that the media will cover your organization, but writing good press releases will get editors and producers to notice you.

Victoria Kendig

Vicky Kendig is assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies where she teaches courses in mass media, media writing and magazine writing. She has worked in newspaper and magazine journalism as well as public relations. She is particularly interested in social media and how they can be used in PR and journalism.

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About Victoria Kendig

Vicky Kendig is assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies where she teaches courses in mass media, media writing and magazine writing. She has worked in newspaper and magazine journalism as well as public relations. She is particularly interested in social media and how they can be used in PR and journalism.

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