Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How to write a Media Release

How to write a Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE: Releasing a thing into the media!

Media releases/statments/communiques are written or recorded communication directed at producers of news media. We use them to announce something we deem as having news value. We are entering into the news media cycle. The makers of memes.

How to Write Media Release: Below is a basic outline on how to write a media release...

Media releases are generally emailed, faxed, or posted to editors at newspapers, magazines, radio, TV stations and networks, media websites etc. Commercial newswire services, such as AAP, Reuters etc, also disseminate news releases. News releases are also used to announce news conferences.

NEWS MEDIA FODDER: A news release is not a news article. A news article is a compilation of facts developed by journalists published in the news media, whereas a news release is designed to be sent to journalists in order to encourage them to develop articles on the subject.

A news release is generally considered as biased or having a particular, ideological 'Point Of View' towards the objectives of the author.

The targetted regurgitation of news releases is rampant in the PR (public relations) industry. PR people aim to procure maximum favorable/positive media focus (spin) for their clients - whose products often become major news items - consumed by millions..

Media Releases are the fundamental fuel of uber-modern media. Rarely does a journo need to leave the office to write a story. News releases feed the beast of global competitive newsmedia hyperbole - because they are fast to consume and easy to reuse. I often see Media Releases reprinted verbatim on corporate and government newswires, or regurgitated word-for-word in the press.

Journalists love it when they don't have to do much more than copy n paste a few quotes. MAybe pick up the phone or shoot an email to grab an exclusive quote - if you are important or considered newsworthy enough.

Writing a media release:
Keep it simple, mate. Ideally a media release is only one A4 page - preferably with an 'official' letterhead. The document is typed, well presented with decent margins. Head the page – MEDIA RELEASE!

Manufacturing semiotic consent: A.B.C. - Accurate. Brief. Concise.

HEADING: Provide a readable heading which clearly identifies the subject matter of your media release. Include the date.

FOOTER: At the bottom include your title, name, email, telephone, and mobile numbers for a contact person. If appropriate, include the time and date for a photo opportunity. Contact times if applicable. Embargo dates are sometimes used.

"FIVE Ws and an H": Think about constructing your media release to answer the six basic journalist questions:

1. What happened? 2. Who was involved? 3. Where it happened? 4. When it happened? 5. Why it happened? 6. How it happened? Everything else can be considered superfluous...

Make sure the intro paragraph demands attention. The intro should include the key facts about your project. In writing the intro think:

What is about to happen? What has happened? What is the most important point you want to get across here? Be clear and precise.

////West Australian environmentalists undertaking a study into wombat urine say the much loved Golden-legged Willerby Pinterbean is on the critical list.////

Assume most of your text will not be used. Go the pyramid-style. Make sure the most important information is first, then the next most interesting detail, followed by other information. Don’t save the best for last! A list of 8 second bites is the key.

/////Proffessor Phillip Jonestown-Arthurs, who is leading a research project at Perth's Yagan Valley University, says wombat urine may be a key to discovering a cure for headlice. However, in undertaking their inner-city study the scientists learned the Golden-legged Willerby Pinterbean Beetle is on the critical list////

Write from a journo's point of view. Think about what will make your story relevant to media consumers. Use plenty of short quotes from the hierarchy of relevant people involved in the project.

/////Professor Jonestown-Arthurs' team found the beetle population is in rapid decline. "The little bastards are nearly all gone," said the Professor. "We have been eating them the whole time."/////

Style: Keep the text short and simple. Be factual, but not jargonistic. Use clear, accessible, everyday, bus stop language. Technical or highly academic descriptions sound boring or may confuse - and get binned.

If editors want more information they will contact you. Be ready for them. Be courteous. Return their calls promptly. Make sure you define your comments as "Off the Record" if you are unwary or unsure of a fact.

It's critical to have a handy list of extra points ready to rattle off. And a list of other reliable people to contact.

Sometimes it may be worthwhile ringing the editor to see if they got the release. But be careful you don't piss these people off too much though. They are people in stressed out jobs - who get to decide what is and isn't newsworthy. Be nice.

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms where possible. Avoid long sentences. Complicated syntax is a problem when information is being read over the radio or television.

Try to limit your sentences to 20-25 words. All the details on one page is BEST.



Some other good sources:

Media – Preparing a Winning Strategy – Writing a Media Release:

How To Write A Media Release:

How to write a media release that gets read:

How to Write a Press Release:


READ A LOT OF REAL MEDIA RELEASES! Once you've read lots of media releases, the format becomes clear. They are pretty basic little bastards.

The entire media machine relies on media releases for content. Its the raw data for corporate, government spin.

Here's some links to good professional media releases:

Prime Minister John Howard:


Greens Senator Bob Brown:

ECU's media releases

UWA Media Statements

UC Berkeley

Australian Gov Media Release Homepages

BHP BILLITON Investors & Media

==========MEDIA RELEASE EXAMPLE==========


Saturday, 5th August, 2006

Flannery reveals Australia to be world nuclear waste dump

Brown challenges Beazley

The Greens have welcomed Tim Flannery's revelation that Australia has been selected as the world's nuclear waste dump by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Both Prime Minister Howard and Labor Leader Beazley want open-slather uranium exports," Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown said in Hobart today.

"But neither is being honest with Australians. They know their policy will lead to our country becoming the world's nuclear waste dump.

"The site selected by the IAEA, according to Dr Flannery, is the Officer Basin on the WA-SA border region.

"But Tim also makes it clear that Australia going all out nuclear will only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by one per cent. It is a stupid proposition for our nation.

"Where Tim dips out is in failing to mention energy efficiency which can provide much more power for Australia, more cheaply and with more jobs than nuclear. And he has given scant recognition to renewables, including solar, where Australia has world's best technology.

"Mr Beazley, in Hobart for this weekend's state Labor conference, should admit that the price of Labor going all out for uranium exports is a giant waste dump with attendant nuclear shipping, port facilities and cross-continent waste transport.

"Instead of transforming Australia into a nuclear nation forever, the Greens' energy policy would make us a world leader in energy efficiency and the export of solar technology," Senator Brown said.

Contact: Katrina Willis 0437 587 562

Katrina Willis
Senator Christine Milne
Phone 03 6234 4566
Fax 03 6234 2144
Mobile 0437 587 562

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