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News releases that work (and those that don't!)

Do make sure it is newsworthy. Nothing will shoot your credibility more quickly than sending out frequent news releases on unimportant topics.

Do focus your approach. Target individual section editors of papers, industry and niche publications. Don't forget the powerful reach of community papers, especially when your subject matter is local.

Do put yourself in the reporter's shoes. Consider the needs of the journalist as far as content, timing, style and length. In other words, Don't send a busy financial reporter a five page sales pitch on your new line of accounting calculators two days before the next "Moneysense" supplement to her paper comes out and expect any coverage!

Do consider the advantages of "snail-mail". Although the fax machine has become an increasingly popular way to send news releases, many journalists report that they feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of faxes their offices receive. Using the mail also enables you to provide reproduction quality photographs directly with your release, a time-saver that could result in an article on your issue.

Do include effective contact information. Clear, recognizable phone, E-mail and after-hours information for the appropriate person is vital to the success of a press release. Be sure to include reference to your Sources listing ("See our listing on page 256 of the current issue of Sources"). Journalists can turn to your listing in their copy and have a capsule description of your organization, reproducible logo, additional contact persons, branch offices and so on.

Don't assume that writing a news release is straightforward! The style should be tailored to the subject matter of your release and the outlets you are targeting. Industries, media formats and even specific publications have their own style. Consider hiring a professional to help you navigate, especially if you are new to the world of media relations!

See also:
Successful news releases: 7 must-know tips

The Princess and the Press
Put it in writing
Using History to Write Powerful Leads
Free for the asking
6 Tips for Writing a Successful VNR
Video News Releases
How to Make Your B-roll Work
Sources News Release Service