Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Effective News Release

The Effective News Release

By David J. Rank

I’ve worked in journalism going on forty years now as both writer and editor for newspapers and magazines. I can honestly say thousands of news releases have crossed my desk over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me how poorly done most of them are, even many sent out by polished writers, marketers, and PR pros. They miss promotional opportunities because they fail to remember three basic principals.

  1. Never forget your audience, who you need to impress with your news release–the editors who decide if your news release will see the light of publication. What does that editor need to interest his or her readership?
  2. Provide an editor with reasons why your news release would be of interest to his or her readers.
  3. Compose the news release in a functional format an editor can easily use. A news release is a tool, not a work of art. The point is to get the information it contains into print and generate follow up interest. Do not expect your news release to be published verbatim.

Here are six tips to compose an effective news release:

  1. A news release has two purposes: a) To get the basic information into print; b) to interest an editor into generating more copy about the subject matter, a feature article on the author, perhaps, or coverage of the event you are promoting.
  2. A news release should be written in third person, not first. A is doing B at C, etc. That can easily be transferred into a publication. Something written as “I will be appearing at someplace with my new novel on…” will need a rewrite which an editor may or may not have time to do. You don’t want your news release ending up in the editor’s To Do When I find the Time pile.
  3. Make sure you have all the facts stated clearly: What are you promoting, who are you promoting, where is it happening, when is it happening, and why anyone should care. The why is rather tricky and should be tailored to each publication you are contacting. And always provide contact information to encourage follow up.
  4. Research the editors/publications you are contacting. Know what they are looking for and make sure your news release fulfills those needs. For example, if you are contacting a local newspaper, make sure you mention a “local” reason why that paper should publish the information you are providing. What is the local connection?
  5. State the facts clearly: Jane Doe will be signing her new book “I’m Finally Published” at the Plenty of Books store in This City from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 20. And so on.
  6. Attribute statements of opinion as direct quotes from a named person. Instead of writing “Jane Doe will be signing her marvelous and exciting new book ‘I’m Finally Published’ at the Plenty of Books store in This City from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 20” write an additional sentence like this: “Jane Doe has written a marvelous and exciting new book,” said Owen Owner of Plenty of Books. Using attributes like that are the best way to get more promotional material through the editorial filter and into print.

Here’s an example on how to format a news release to promote the release of a new book.


Contact information: Lisa Lickel, (phone number),

Local author publishes second book in mystery series

WEST BEND, Wis. – Local novelist Lisa Lickel has published her second book in her popular Buried Treasure Series. The Map Quilt is a sweet romantic, cozy mystery like Lisa’s first book in the series, The Gold Standard,” said MuseItUp Publication’s editor Anne Duguid.

The Map Quilt is now available online and will soon be out in paperback, Lickel said.

“Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville, the new home of my protagonist, school teacher Judy Wingate,” Lickel said. “The story revolves around a stolen innovative new battery, a long-buried skeleton, and an old quilt that contains its own secrets. Judy and her husband Hart unravel the murder of Hart’s boss and how Judy’s ancestors were once part of the Underground Railroad.

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a 160-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes mystery and romance novels, all with a touch of grace.

She also edits, writes book reviews and interviews, and has penned dozens of short stories, magazine articles, feature stories for newspapers, and radio theater scripts. She is editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin, the literary magazine of the Wisconsin Writers Association, and of Other Sheep, a Christian science fiction and fantasy magazine.

Her website is
About Dave Rank:
A working journalist in Wisconsin for 39 years, David J. Rank writes for and has edited newspapers, magazines, books, and corporate publications. He’s also sold or placed freelance articles and news releases in trade, regional and national publications. Vice president of the Wisconsin Writers Association and active in local writing groups, Rank has had more than 25 short stories published online and in regional literary publications.
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  1. Your sample was good with one exception:

    "The Map Quilt is now available online ..."


    Your client ain't gonna get sales without putting the links in the press release. Even then, the editor who receives it may choose not to include them in the story but if they ain't got it, they can't use it.

    The book may be available on her website (although the press release doesn't say so) and you could have spruced that up a bit by saying "You may find out more about the author by visiting her website at"

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Mike. That's information to definitely include when we're doing online pr.

  2. LIKE this post! Very helpful info—thanks!

    1. One of the other reasons I wanted to share Dave's post was to show that having a local connection to the press in your community is helpful.

  3. A News release is a written statement to the media. They can announce a range of News release items, including scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, new products and services, sales accomplishments, etc. They can also be used in generating a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a News release. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, one that anyone who's willing to use the proper format can use. We'll show you how.