Chapter 5 Reading Notes

June 29, 2010 at 11:42 pm (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter 5 of our Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook deals with writing news releases. The first part of the chapter discusses the importance of news releases/press releases in publicity programs. I was extremely suprised to find out that between 55 and 95 percent of all news releases sent to media outlets are never used. I was not suprised to read that there is a massive competition for the attention of reporters and editors.

          News releases are so effective because they create awareness about ideas, situations, services, and products. They are also cost effective; according to the text, almost any organization can create and distribute news releases at nominal cost compared to the cost of advertising.

          There is also much to do when planning a news release. The creator of the news release must consider the selection of paper, word processing, and the style to be followed when writing. It is important for a public relations writer to complete a planning worksheet before writing anything. The planning worksheet should answer these basic questions:

  1. What is the subject of the message? What is the specific focus of this release?
  2. Who is this message designed to reach?
  3. What is in it for this particular audience? What are the potential benefits and rewards?
  4. What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose?
  5. What do you want to achieve with the news release?
  6. What key messages should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific publication and its readers?

          There are also many different types of news releases including announcements, spot announcements, reaction releases, bad news, and local news. It is also important for a public relations writer to remember the basic parts of a traditional news release. The first page of a news release is usually printed on an organization’s letterhead, followed by contacts, a headline, a dateline, the lead, the body of the text, and a description of the organization.

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