you work for company too small to have its own public relations staff. Or
your company has a public relations staff, but they’re off for the day.
Your boss calls you in and gives you the
Your entire clerical staff has just
walked off the job to protest cancellation of casual dress day. Or the
computer virus detection program manufactured by your software company has
been recalled because it contains a virus. Or the new owners have decided
to convert production in your factory from extra absorbent disposable
diapers to fine linens and doilies.
Whether the news is cause for misery or
celebration, your boss needs someone to prepare a news release right away
– and that someone is you. What do you do?
A. Submit your resignation on the spot.
B. Feign a sudden, incapacitating
illness that requires you to leave immediately for the hospital.
C. Smile and say, "No problem," with as
much confidence as you can muster.
Well, being the cool, collected person
you are, the type who is always prepared for any eventuality, you do C, of
You know that your job as PR man or
woman of the hour is to present the news in the most favorable light
possible. You know that whatever you write must accomplish two objectives:
It must reinforce the main image or mission your company seeks to project,
and it must do so in a way that appeals to your audience’s interests,
concerns, or biases.
But what you don’t know is how to write
a news release. What is it supposed to look like? What format does it
As you walk down the corridor to your
office, you say a little prayer: "Oh, please let me still have those notes
from my college business writing course."
Sure enough, in the back of the bottom
file drawer, in a dog-eared file on faded yellow notebook paper you find
these hastily scrawled notes, along with a reference to
•Write in a clear, concise style.
•Provide your information according to
the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and
•Arrange information by level of
importance, with all critical information in the first paragraph, and less
important information in succeeding paragraphs (editors tend to cut from
•Check the accuracy of your facts.
•Define any technical terms.
•Provide the name and phone number of a
contact person who can give further information.
•Begin with the place and date of the
Double-space the text and use
•If the release is longer than a single
page, type "More" at the bottom of every page except the last.
•Type "-30-" or "End" at the bottom of
the last page (editors are impressed if they think you know the lingo).
•Send the release to a specific person
(or at to a particular editor, such as the business editor or the
There. You breathe a huge sigh of
relief. Nothing to it.
Still, not to appear ungrateful, you
promise to make the coffee every morning and to floss every night for the
rest of your life.