REP’s Handbook On-Line

Representatives Handbook

 

A GUIDE TO GOOD PRESS RELEASES

News editor's desks are piled high with press releases. Some contain news of real value. Others are appalling public relations garbage. Don't add to the pile unless you really believe your story is likely to survive the early morning shake-up that diverts most press releases to the bin. Your media performance should be judged on the quantity of material that is published. not on the quantity that is sent in. Make sure your story is newsworthy or you could alienate reporters. If a MAG Action Document uses a press release, it is newsworthy.

  • KEEP IT BRIEF AND PRESENT IT CLEANLY
     
  • TELL THEM WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH

Every release should begin with the 5 Ws:

  • WHAT is happening
     
  • WHO is doing it
     
  • WHERE it is happening
     
  • WHEN it is happening
     
  • WHY it is happening

Thus the first paragraph might read as follows:

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) - WHO

will dump 10.000 crash helmets - WHAT

on the doorstep of Pentonville Prison - WHERE

tomorrow morning (Saturday) - WHEN

MAG say the Helmet law is unjust and should be repealed - WHY

The remainder of the press release will give the details, and a suitable quote from the campaign.

WHAT DOES A PRESS RELEASE LOOK LIKE?

Journalists can tell at a glance if a release is going to help them or not. It should give a confident. easy to read impression and provide the certain basic information in addition to the text of the release.  More important, a sub-editor must be able to handle a press release with ease; helshe must have room to write in instructions to the printer or rewrite parts of the text. The more care taken over the presentation of a press release. the more chance of it being used with little alteration.

PRESS RELEASE CHECK LIST

  • Use headed A4 paper for the first page and just one side of any sheet.
     
  •  Use a word processor, computer or typewriter. 
     
  • Provide a simple heading at the top of the release. A short sentence that sums up the story . 
     
  • Put a date on the release indicating when it can be published. Embargoes are used to time when you want the story used, for example, .'EMBARGOED NOT FOR PUBLlCATION BEFORE 00:30 HRS, MONDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1992". 
     
  • Use double spacing. This allows the sub-editor to rewrite and insert instructions to the printer. 
     
  • Use wide margins (about 1.5 inches) on both edges of the paper - again for instructions.  
     
  • Never split a sentence over two pages.
     
  •  Number the pages. If the release covers more than one page, type, "1 of 3" at the bottom right hand comer of page one, "2 of 3" on the next page and "3 of 3" on the last etc.  Use staples, not paper clips nor pins.
     
  •  When referring to people by name, use full names and position in the first instance. E.g. "Par1iamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Mr Christopher Chope MP".  Then just use "Mr. Chope "' if you mention him again. 
  • Don't use jargon/slang. Only use abbreviations after stating the organisation in full and giving the abbreviation in brackets the first time it is mentioned, e.g. "Motorcycle Action Group (MAG). 
  • When mentioning a day in the text, include the date and day in brackets afterwards, e.g. "at the meeting last night (Friday 3 May 1992)". 
  • Use vigorous language. Keep the sentences short and simple. Express yourself positively. 
  • Type “ENDS" on a line of its own after the text. 
  • Always put the name with day and night telephone numbers of a local contact. Ensure contact is available when the release hits the media. MAG's Central and press offices both have telephone numbers that can be used as extra contacts. 
  • Do not underline anything. 
  • Always keep a copy of the release you sent out.

MAG often co-ordinates all its reps to send a standard press release to local media at the same time. This is initiated through Network, the reps’ monthly newsletter. LOOK OUT FOR THESE ACTION DOCUMENTS

SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE LAYOUT

 

Use proper headed
Paper

 

Leave space for Editor’s instructions to printer – at least 6 cm

  

 

 

Text double-spaced, no underlining

 

 



Release or Embargo Date



Title in capitals, no underlining

 

 

 

 

Do not split sentence over two pages

If more than one page, say so e.g.
1 of 2

 


Use Continuation sheet only if really necessary
 

 

 

Repeat title of Press Release

 

 

 

 

 

Give contact details

 Notes to Editors – Extra information or background material, availability of photographs etc.

 

Use wide margins on all sheets – at least 2.5 cm

 

 

 

 

ENDS – Indicate where text finishes

 

 

 

Number the page

  

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