What is a News Release? - Essential Guidelines

Instructor: Brianna Whiting
News stories sometimes begin as a news release sent to a media outlet to announce something new or noteworthy about a business or organization. In this lesson we will learn about news releases and what to include when writing one.

A First Look at a News Release

Many of us have read a newsworthy story, either in a newspaper or online. But how many of us think about the elements of the story that captured our attention and made us actually want to read it? While the story may have been some juicy gossip about a celebrity, news stories can also be a valuable public relations tool. You see, when a company or organization wants to get news or important information out to the public and its customers, it may consider sending a story to different print, broadcasting and digital media outlets in the hope that it will be published or aired. These short stories are what we refer to as a news release. In this lesson we will learn what a great PR resource a news release can be for a business, and how to write one.

News Release Defined

So what exactly is a news release? Well, a news release is a short attention-grabber piece of writing that gives information about events, products and other exciting details of a company. In its basic form, a press release is a written statement meant to generate interest and publicity and attract potential customers. News releases cover a wide range of subjects including new products, business expansions and mergers, job growth and a company's charitable donations.

Guidelines and Rules

So let's say that you want to write a news release about a company you own. How would you begin? What should you include? The following is a list of guidelines to consider when writing a news release:

1. Have a story worth telling - Before a reporter will even consider publishing your story, you need to prove that it is worth telling. Make sure your new release focuses on something significant that will interest the general public. For example, a newsworthy story for your company might be an offer of a free television to the first 50 customers on your one-year anniversary. This information is exciting, and who doesn't want a free TV?

2. Get to the point - Media outlets are flooded with news releases and to stand out among the competition you need to quickly capture an editor's attention. This means getting to the point in the first couple of sentences. So, if you want to get your news release published, you might state in your first sentence that the first 50 customers will receive a TV!

3. Pay attention to your writing - If your news release is full of grammatical errors, misspelled words and inaccurate information, an editor may disregard it. Always proofread your writing and check your facts. Your message should be clear, concise and convincing. So with your press release about your one-year anniversary, you will want to provide any important details and numbers about the TVs and who might receive one. For example, do the customers have to purchase something to receive the TV, or is it the first 50 customers in the door regardless of a purchase.

4. Add quotes -- Statements and quotes from experts and business leaders can help you strengthen your release. A news release sounds more reliable and important if a company's CEO is commenting on the information. For your press release, perhaps you as the owner might make a statement about the anniversary celebration so that your community and customers can understand the significance of the event.

5. Provide key information - News releases are meant to be short, and you might not have an opportunity to say as much as you would like. Focus on the most important facts. Include contact information and addresses to websites where readers can learn more about your company and the products and services you offer.

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