6 tips on press releases from a high school journalist.

Not many people know this, but I do have a background in journalism. I was on my high school newspaper from the time I was a sophomore until I graduated. That’s three solid years writing multiple news and editorial articles for 12 issues a year, which puts my published article count at about 75–give or take a few. As for un-published, I don’t even want to know how many article I wrote.

The thing about press releases, is that they need to be written as if it’s a ready made newspaper article. Here are a few things to remember when writing a press release:

  1. Newspapers are hard pressed for space. Say as much as you can in the least amount of words possible.
  2. Write in the third person: Kayla Curry is the author of Obsidian, the first book in the Mystic Stones Series.
  3. In journalism, the first paragraph is the tagline paragraph. Readers, and editors for that matter, are only going to read more if your first paragraph is interesting yet short. It should only be about two sentences long.
  4. Don’t forget the dollar bill rule. Huge blocks of text are bad. That’s why the dollar bill rule was invented. If you can fit a dollar bill on the page without it hitting a sub-heading, image or anything else that would break up the text a bit, you can bet that story isn’t going to get read as much as others. Some of this responsibility goes to the layout editor, (a job I had as a senior staffer) who is there to make sure the paper is visually pleasing and follows rules like this.
  5. To help with the dollar bill rule, make sure that you include your author photo and cover image.
  6. Last, but not least, remember that this is a news story. If you feel that you need to learn more about the writing style of news stories, pick up a local paper and read a few articles to get a feel for how they write news stories.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more tips as soon as I publish this so, stay tuned for a possible sequel in the future!

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3 thoughts on “6 tips on press releases from a high school journalist.

  1. Great article—my only critique is that I wish it were longer!

    My first question: what’s the “right” format to submit a press release? Is there one? Does it depend on who you’re submitting it to? Do people generally prefer a Word document, a PDF, a what?

    I guess my more general questions are all about how to actually submit. Do you go through a press release service? Do you contact individual sites that you’d like to have feature your article?

    Z. C. and I are getting ready to submit a bunch of press releases, but I feel like I’m fishing in the dark.

  2. Most places do have their own submission guidelines, but for the most part they will accept a word document. There are two ways to go about this:

    1. The free way. Look up local and regional papers and media outlets online and compile a list of email addresses.

    2. The not free way. Use press release sites like:
    http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/pricing_plans.php
    http://service.prweb.com/pricing/

    For my first release, I went with the free way and got about 5-6 requests out of the 30-40 that went out. Not too shabby, could have been better. There may have been a few that published without telling me too so that number might be higher without my knowledge. The newspaper business is incredibly fast paced.

    For my next release, I might try a press release site.

    I will publish my press release from Obsidian on this blog tomorrow for people to see. Along with more tips!

  3. Pingback: Press releases: Part two! | Kayla Curry

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