You can avoid the common mistakes that many nonprofits make with their press releases by following these three tips. Reporters will love you for it!
1) Never Lead with Your Mission Statement.
Reporters need news and features that are relevant for today. They don't care about when or why your organization was founded or even how you want to change the world. They do care about what's happening in the community right now, what conflicts are brewing, and how things are changing for the better and for the worse. Lead with something that will make a reporter say, "Huh, I didn't know that!" and save the background for the very bottom of your press release.
2) Gimme a Real Meal Deal, Hold the BS.
If the quotes in your press release have to be edited and approved by more than three people, odds are they aren't going to sound like something a real person would say in conversation. If you start a quote with "We are pleased . . ." or "We are honored . . .", BS most likely follows. Get beyond the blah, blah, blah quotes by saying something a little bit surprising or expressing a strong opinion. Bring what's happening down to the personal level -- in other words, be real. Those are the kinds of quotes reporters can use.
3) K-I-S-S Me You Fool!
KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. After writing really bad quotes, the next problem with press release writing by committee is loading up the release with way too much stuff. Everyone wants their favorite little tidbits thrown in. If others in your organization keep asking, "But what about . . .?" and "Don't you think we should include. . .?" always come back to your lead paragraph where you make your main point. Does this new information completely support your existing angle? If not, save it for another time. Focus on your angle, cover the Five Ws and H (who, what, when, why, where, and how), throw in some good quotes and stop.
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