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Reaching the Media

Sample News Release #1
Sample News Release #2
Sample News Release #3
Sample News Release #4
Sample News Release #5

Sample Pitch Letter #1
Sample Pitch Letter #2
Sample Pitch Letter #3
Sample Pitch Letter #4

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Reaching the Media: Newsworthy Notes, Releases & Letters

Some marketers find public relations writing a challenge. They can write targeted, catchy headlines and engaging marketing or ad copy that attracts consumers. On the other hand, figuring out what media contacts want to know might seem complicated.

To attract the attention of the media (online news sites, newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, or social media), you must first connect with the “gatekeepers” to your publics. This could be the medium’s editor, reporter, producer, or anchor person. These professionals are looking for newsworthiness and relevance for their specific readers, listeners or viewers. This is the first step in establishing credibility and communication that leads to media relationships.

Delivering your newsworthy information – to a journalist, site host, or directly to interested individuals – usually starts with an email note, phone call, release, or a letter. Whatever your approach, it’s best to keep it brief (a paragraph) and substantive, focusing on the Five Ws and why your suggestion is newsworthy and perfect for this specific medium. If you start the communication in an email message, use a short but targeted subject line.

Before proceeding into the specifics of releases and letters, let’s discuss some changing terms.

While it’s true that the words “press” (as in release) or “pitch” (as in letter) are evolving to simply release and letter, it is also true that reporters still seek the Five Ws. If you prefer, you can change “pitch” to “letter of engagement” or “press” to “News for You” (?!) However you approach it, focus on the content of your deliverable.

News Release

Also known as a media release, the release primarily focuses on timeliness or NEW news – something that just happened, is happening right now, or is about to happen. It can introduce a new product, service, process or idea; it can announce an upcoming event, company appointment or a book; or, it can present new information from a clinical trial, survey or research study.

When you write your release, begin with journalism’s Five Ws:

  • WHO is making the new news (company, person) and WHO will benefit from the new news (users, consumers)?
  • WHAT is the new news (new product, event, appointment)?
  • WHEN is the new news occurring (yesterday, today, next month)?
  • WHERE is the new news occurring (specific location address, or distribution channels)?
  • WHY is this new news newsworthy (cure for a disease, new product, first renovation in 20 years, etc.)?

You do not have to present them in this order. You could start with WHY, or a problem-solution introduction. The real issue is that you have new news or timely information. If you do not, then consider a letter rather than a release.

Pitch Letter

A letter, which offers a more personal touch and flexibility, enables you to approach the media with newsworthy information, even when you do not have a “new” announcement. For example, if your organization produces a product that is being used in a new context, this has feature potential. Or, if your social service agency is responding to more people with a particular need that might reflect a trend, this is newsworthy.

Whichever approach you choose, it should be professionally presented. Check your grammar, punctuation and spelling. It’s equals it is; remember the apostrophe. Notorious, notoriety or infamous imply something negative; do not use them when you actually mean famous for a positive reason. Avoid unnecessary boldfaced, underlined or CAPITALIZED text (which is too “marketing” for journalistic purposes). Stick to objective facts, and do not use superlatives, fluffy adjectives or “cutesy” words. Although there are times you can have “fun” with press materials, try to avoid sales or marketing language.Return to top

Want to see a sample press release and a pitch letter?

   

 

   

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