HELPFUL HINTS FOR WRITING A PRESS RELEASE, A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OR AN OP-ED
When you want to publicize an event or activity, you can send a press release to our local newspapers. These are short pieces that follow journalistic rules for news; thus they should include the “5 Ws,” meaning details as to Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Needless to say, press releases should publicize a newsworthy event.
There is some flexibility in format, but the following is applicable to most situations.
Start with FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE centered at the top, in all caps.
Under this, type the Dateline which lets the publisher know that they are receiving the most updated information.
Provide a Compelling Headline. This should be well articulated and eye catching to make the person want to read on. A good headline is specific, direct and easy to understand, and uses the active voice.
Next is the Introduction. The first paragraph is the most important paragraph because it contains a summary of the press release. Most publishers only bother to read the first few lines of this paragraph. Give it everything you have to say.
The Body consists of two to several paragraphs explaining every detail of information you want to share. Be sure to include:
— Who is involved.
— What exactly is happening.
— When it’s happening.
— Where it’s happening.
— Why it matters.
Make it more interesting by using statistics or strong and memorable quotes from someone in the organization or from others who are valued voices. If relevant to the situation, you can also include photos, infographics, videos, or graphs or charts.
The Boilerplate is a short paragraph in which you provide information about the organization: who you are, when you were founded, what is your vision, and so on.
Finally, end with a Call To Action. This is the final element of an effective press release. Give the reader a clear call to action to let folks know what you want them to do.
Don’t forget to include Media Contact Details. An effective press release should contain your contact information: your name, phone number, and email address.
End with the traditional three hashtags. Use ### to signal that the press release is finished.
Remember to use proper grammar, spelling, titles, and style. Give it a try!
Thank you to Michelle Moore of SharpSpring, Ariel Hyatt of CyberPR, Team NewsVoir
LETTER TO THE EDITOR OR AN OP-ED
What’s the difference between a Letter to the Editor and an Op-Ed?
• Letter to the Editor (LTE) = short (250 words), is a response to a specific article or event
• Op-Ed = longer (750 words), not necessarily a response to specific event
Which is preferable for you to write?
Op-Ed is better, it’s longer and can be more detailed and nuanced, and because it helps you reach wider audience, it demonstrates that there’s public concern about an issue, it puts a personal face to the issue, and it gets attention from legislators
What makes an Op-Ed effective?
— Make it “Wide Us, Narrow Them.”
— Focus on constituents, issues, lived experiences.
— Provide facts and figures.
— Don’t linger on your opponents’ arguments.
— Know your audience.
— End with a call to action.
How would you start?
–Connect to a current event or another piece of media (this is your lead, your hook).
–Rework a piece of conventional wisdom.
–Ask a question, then answer it with your thesis.
How do I go about getting published?
Try a LTE first (because you don’t have to pitch an LTE) For an Op-Ed, a successful pitch is
3) brief and clear,
4) conveys expertise, and
5) communicates an unexpected point of view.
It should answer these questions: Why now? Why should people care? Why should it be me writing about it? Include your piece with your cover letter email or as an attachment. Ask editor to respond within a time frame. Then, if you don’t hear from the editor, follow-up! (ask if you’re pitching to the right person).
Thank you to Act on Mass for providing training material.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (Halifax Media Group)
Serving Worcester County
Springfield Republican/MassLive.com (Newhouse Newspapers)
Serving Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley
Auburn News Serving Auburn and surrounding communities
Charlton Villager Serving Charlton & surrounding communities
Southbridge Evening News Serving: Southbridge and surrounding communities
Spencer New Leader Serving: Spencer, Leicester, the Brookfields
Sturbridge Villager Serving Sturbridge and surrounding communities.
Click on this link for guidelines and policies: Stonebridge Press
Send submissions to: email@example.com.
Guidelines: email as either a MS Word document saved as text only, or pasted directly into the form on their web page. Submit news tips, story ideas, photo submissions, sports results, calendar items and letters to the editor. They will respond to all email messages received. Deadline for submission: Monday at noon for the current week’s edition.
Barre Gazette Serving: Barre, Hardwick, Hubbardston, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Petersham, Rutland Contact: Ellie Downer, 413-967-3505, firstname.lastname@example.org
Palmer Journal Register Serving: Palmer, Monson, Brimfield, Holland, and Wales Contact: Elise Linscott at 413-283-8393, email@example.com
Quaboag Current Serving: Sturbridge, Brookfield, West Brookfield, East Brookfield, North Brookfield, New Braintree. Contact: Eileen Kennedy, 413-967-3505, firstname.lastname@example.org
Policies: Letters to the Editor should be 250 words or less in length, and guest columns between 500 and 800 words. No unsigned or anonymous opinions will be published. They require that the person submitting the opinion also include his or her home telephone number, because they authenticate authorship prior to publication. They reserve the right to edit or withhold any submissions deemed to be libelous, unsubstantiated allegations, personal attacks, or defamation of character.
Ware River News Serving: Ware, Warren, Hardwick, and Gilbertville
Contact: Eileen Kennedy at 413-967-3505, email@example.com