Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter have completely reformed how people communicate around the globe, and news is reaching the web before newspapers start printing, and news is reaching a larger audience online. Press releases are still a vital tool and more important than ever, due to the larger number of news channels that can use it.
Most major newspapers and magazines have digital editions and a fair number of journalists operate their own regional or nationally popular blogs, the trick is getting your press release up to snuff and into the right channels.
How to Write a Kite Event Press Release
A solid press release can be the most basic and least expensive tool for bringing your kite club, event or organization to the attention of the media. It is a concise page of newsworthy information you create and send to publications, news sites, and journalists. Press releases are generally distributed to notify the media of a story that will be happening in the near future – for example a monthly kite club gathering, opening of a new retail store, or a – so publications can cover the story. It is also possible to use a press release to send in a story that happened recently (i.e. like a kiteflier winning championships at AKA Grand Nationals).
Journalists and editors should receive press releases that give them all the information they need to publish the story, or provide point(s) of contact for a reporter to follow up. It provides answers to the questions who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph and lists a contact name and phone number for further information. It is usually short – about 250 words – and is composed of short paragraphs using short sentences. It closes with a recap of who to contact for more information.
A lot of folks are intimidated by the prospect of writing a press release; but it’s actually not so difficult to convey the essential information in a clear and appealing way, following the guidelines and template offered below.
Coverage from a press release should generally be free of charge, but unlike “paid” advertising, there is no way to insure that your story will be used, and you do not have editorial control over how the reporter(s) will use your story. But you should also know, it’s possible to build relationships with local journalists and the media that may promote better press coverage.
Choose someone in your team to be the media representative or PR person. Journalists always appreciate having a primary contact who keeps them up-to-date and is willing to be a spokesperson for the organization or connect them with a senior spokesperson within the organization.
Start interacting with local news blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds online. Some reporters write their own blogs so look for the ones that might be useful to you and start interacting with them. Set up Google alerts using key words relating to your particular events and activities that will feed you daily news items – new media contacts might come from these as well.
Familiarize yourself with both online and offline local or regional news publications, listen to the radio, watch TV and follow any other events-related news outlets. It is very useful to recognize the journalists and media that generally feature your type of events and activities and locate their contact details.
Arrange meetings for coffee for a brief introductory conversation and hand over a press package that includes details about your organization, recent press releases, and how they can get obtain images (if available). Making a face-to-face connection will greatly increase your chances of being remembered, and you will have the opportunity to call them in the future to offer your story or seek advice about getting it published.
Organizing and hosting an official press visit is a very cost-effective method of creating positive media coverage. It is highly suggested to organize a press visit for your event or festival. Opening ceremonies or scheduled event highlights are perfect. Take a group of journalists on a tour of the area, or get sponsors to offer food tastings or a meal, it can also be useful to invite your performers to participate as well if appropriate.
This includes the media, it will help insure that they get the “big picture” and are excited about covering your event.
- Communicate with journalists beforehand and customize the visit for their goals, find out what they want.
- Solicit support from your sponsors and vendors, the media exposure will benefit them too.
- Provide journalists with a detailed itinerary and overview for their visit.
- Create press packages with images and information about your event, organization, performers etc.
- It’s VERY important to welcome journalists personally, they are your guests.
- Provide them with all your important contact information for last-minute inquires.
- Schedule a follow up by phone or in person to provide any further information or images.
- Confirm when the feature or broadcast is coming out, be prepared.
Key Points for Structure and Content
- Impact is important – make your release stand out from all the others received by journalists and editors on a daily basis. The leading 30% of the page is most important. This space is critical for catching the journalist’s interest.
- Think of a clear, catchy title for your headline, aim for a maximum of six words in length, make sure it has “bite”, is to the point and clearly conveys to the reader what your story is about.
- The leading paragraph should secure the reader’s interest and summarize your whole story. A good tact might be to ask yourself if it could stand alone as a short article and make sense if nothing else were published.
- Remember your “five W’s” – the introduction should provide the important facts: Who What Where When Why? Review what you have written and ask yourself these questions. Can you answer them?
- Your important facts should be in descending order of interest (most interesting first) because newspapers trim stories from the bottom up to fit the space available. If you don’t lead with the most interesting items, you may find important or newsworthy facts from your story may be omitted!
- It can useful to include a quote. They can add interest and reality – but make sure that they elaborate on the event in some way and are not just “canned” quotes. Be certain that you disclose the person being quoted, and always include quotation marks around any quotes you use.
- Be certain to include a date on your press release.
Presentation and Layout
Equally important – make your press release easy on the eyes, to ensure that your media contact reads it.
- Press releases are always typed, you will never see hand written press releases.
- Use double-spacing in your text and keep it left aligned (not centered) – this is is easier to read and simpler for the editors to work with.
- It can be helpful to use wide margins (space on the sides of the release), allowing for ease of editing and so the reporter can add notes or instructions for the editing staff.
- Readable fonts are critical, plain and simple fonts like Times New Roman or Arial are greatly preferred, it’s not a good idea to use fancy fonts like French Script or too casual like Comic Sans.
- Your text should NOT be smaller than 12 point.
- One page is ideal, but if you do have more than one page, be sure to number your pages at the bottom.
- The majority of press releases are distributed by email so if you are sending out press releases this way, it might be a good idea to place your text in the body of the email (not as a separate attachment) to eliminate the additional steps of opening a file and increase the chance it will actually be read.
- A press release should always be single-sided, never use both sides of a sheet.
- Common sense items – do not split sentences over two pages, and try not to split a paragraph across two pages.
- Use staple for multiple press release pages, as paperclips can come undone.
- Include your contact information at the end.
You can include background sheets for extra details that supplement your press release, such as:
- A hot sheet listing “event highlights” or any “notes to the Editor”
- A list of all artists, performers or honored guests who are involved in the event
- Brief but effective biographies for each of the key players
- Briff introductions to each of the organizations involved
- Relevant maps or directions
When writing press releases, remember to:
- Limit them to one page.
- Answer the “five W’s”: who?, what?, where?, why?, when?
- Focus your main message in the headline and the first paragraph.
- Be sure to follow up a press release by phone to verify your release was received.
The photographs you select for your publicity efforts can greatly influence how the public perceives your event. In some cases, publications only print their own photos so be sure to advise them of any photo opportunities. If they are unable to send one to your event, consider arranging a photographer yourself.
Prepare a well-organized ZIP file of images from past events and activities, sorted by year, that can be easily emailed to media representatives if needed.
It might be beneficial to check with the journalist to find out what size and format they require (such as jpeg, tiff, eps) if you are sending digital images. Newspapers generally prefer to receive images via email or mailed CD/DVD, but they must be in a high standard and resolution for good print quality.
Be absolutely certain to include the correct photographer credits if you are providing images, copyright and fair use is an ongoing concern for any media outlet and they will appreciate having the information.
Consider including any useful image descriptions as part of each image file name including who or what i is in the image, names and ages of any children pictured, when the photo was taken, and the name of the photographer. If you are mailing printed photos, clearly write important information on the back of each image and include your contact info.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
It’s extremely important to follow up on your press releases, media visits, photo sessions and other media-related events with a direct phone call to the journalist who is handling it. This is your opportunity to make sure that they have all the important information, and to increase the chances you will stay “at the top of the pile”.
Don’t be pushy, be clear and enthusiastic, but remember they are often under a deadline and have busy schedules.
Recap and Overview
- Keep it clear and simple – use language that is simple, concise and confident.
- Keep your sentences short, the whole press release should be 250 words or less if possible.
- Write for the public, not for your participants – someone who knows nothing about your organization or lingo can often give a fresh and interesting perspective, solicit feedback from friends outside the event, ask yourself if the ordinary reader will understand your press release. It should be simple and understandable enough for the average reader.
- Stay away from lingo, language or jargon, stick to universal terms everyone can understand.
- Do not use acronyms (like AKA) unless you explain them in the release.
- Use the reader’s perspective, not your own. Focus on what the public can participate in!
- The media will only use your story if the editor feels it may be of interest to their readers.
- Truthful and accuracy makes you a credible news source. Avoid false claims such as “the best”, “the only” and “the biggest”. inaccurate press releases can come back to bite you later.
Other Useful Tips
- Avoid cliche phrases and words like “extravaganza”, “unique”, “super advanced”, etc.
- Write your release from a the perspective of a journalist. Do not use “I” or “we” unless it’s part of a quote.
- Review good newspaper writing, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post for more insight.
- Short is good. Two pages can be alright, but if you can say it in one page, even better.