Key Elements of a Public Awareness Program – Part 4

Once you have determined the most newsworthy aspect of your story, you must summarize that information at the beginning of the release and then quickly back up the lead statement with facts. Save the less important details for last to fit the inverted-pyramid style of news writing.

Put the most comprehensive information in the lead, so that the reader gets the point of the story even if he reads only the first sentence or paragraph. All the essential information summarizing the whole story should be contained in the first paragraph if at all possible.

If you are announcing an event or meeting, make sure your first paragraph answers the basic questions: Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How.

A press release must be a complete story because some publications will run a release verbatim. This is usually more likely with trade publications. However, because I make sure to put my releases in the format that makes the job easiest for media, I’ve had numerous times when my release ran straight as I submitted it with the byline as “Staff written.” I guess they figure it is okay to say staff written if someone on their staff took my words and typed them into their publication. That’s fine. As long as what I sent in sees print, I’m content. Publications for larger audiences generally have larger staffs and allow their reporters more time for further reporting and rewriting.

When you send out your releases, send them to more than just the news media. Make sure your contact list includes other organizations, your local chamber of commerce, and local officials. Although these others won’t generate news stories, you may generate interest and gain new members or supporters for your efforts.

You won’t get bowled over with publicity right away

Accept that fact from the beginning, and you won’t get disappointed.

Publicity is a “numbers game” – the more people you contact, the more press releases you send out, and the more often you send them, the better your chances of getting some good press. So let people know of every interesting move you make. Your media contacts will become familiar with your efforts and eventually find a way to include your story.

Be sure to read this entire series on Creating a Public Awareness Campaign. Check out the other articles in this series:

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

Tips on Getting News Coverage

How to Build Media Relationships

Two Simple Tools for Generating Publicity is yet to come.