In today’s world we are inundated by messages everyday. With the increasing dominance of the Internet and social media, there are more communication mediums available to reach the public than ever before. This increase in communication channels has given strategic communication professionals many different paths to choose from to reach their publics. Many choose to utilize multiple paths, and do so very frequently, which has cause a massive saturation of these channels. As a result, much of the information that is released to the public is ignored, or looked over.
It is more important than ever for strategic communications professionals to fashion their press releases in a way that will increase the likelihood of consumption by the public. Over the years, public relations professionals and thinkers have compiled some general principles that are necessary in order to create an attention-grabbing press release. According to Fraser P. Seitel, author of the textbook The Practice of Public Relations, “Releases have one overriding purpose: to influence a publication to write favorably about the material discussed” (p. 309). A news release is almost guaranteed not to meet this goal if it is poorly written, poorly localized, or not newsworthy.
It is extremely important for a press release to be well written because it must flow smoothly and quickly. Spelling, grammar, or formatting errors require the reader to slow down, which is not ideal when press releases are made to deliver information in a fast and straightforward manner. Those types of writing errors can also cause confusion and distort the intended meaning of the message, which is extremely detrimental to the purpose of a press release. In general, when a press release is poorly written, it is not taken seriously. With the amount of media messages that are released everyday, a poorly written news release would have a slim chance of making it into an established publication, and therefore would not reach the public.
Because most newspapers and other informational periodicals are usually localized, news releases have a better chance of being selected by an editor if they too, are localized. This seems as though it would be an obvious assumption, however many news releases are not localized. This shortcoming usually occurs because localizing releases requires much more time and energy than creating more geographically broad releases that can be used in multiple locations. Unfortunately, taking this shortcut to avoid extra work usually results in a failure because according to Seitel, “Research indicates that a news release is 10 times more likely to be used if it is localized” (p. 310).
In order for a press release to stand out in a world overflowing with media messages at all times, it must be newsworthy enough to spark the interest of editors and the intended public. Unfortunately, the releases that are chosen and turned into stories usually consist of scandal, crime, tragedy, death, etc., and exclude more positive and uplifting topics. An example of a positive news release that is not necessarily news worthy is a news release from the Queens’ website titled ‘Trees Harvested on Rogers Hall Site Will Find New Life”. Although it is great that the trees cleared for construction were recycled, it does not necessarily excite the reader and or editor. However, that is simply my opinion, and someone with a strong interest in construction and sustainability may find this extremely news worthy.
An example of a Queens press release that is news worthy in my opinion is the release titled ‘Jennifer Bratyanski Featured on Fox News’. The title is attention grabbing because it mentions someone from the Queens community in affiliation with a national television news program, which is exciting and intriguing. The inclusion of a member of the Queens community makes this release localized. The body of the release mentions same sex marriage and legalized marijuana, which are two big issues that create newsworthiness. The release is also very brief, straightforward, and without grammar or spelling errors, making it well written.