The ability to write easily, logically, and succinctly is vital in public relations. The object of most PR writing is to grab the reader’s attention. Most press releases and other written communications for the media use an inverted-pyramid style, with the most important and relevant information at the top, followed by gradually less important information. Before we start, let’s use one of the templates from this web portal that can be adapted to your club or one from the RI website:
Writing a Press Release
The headline and the first sentence are the two most important parts of a press release. Make sure they are compelling enough to draw the editor or reporter in. Use active verbs in headlines, making them brief and to the point.
Include the five W’s in your first paragraph, ideally in the first sentence:
In subsequent paragraphs, describe details about the event or project or how the person achieved something extraordinary.
If you’re sending a release to a television station, think of its visual needs. Suggest good video footage opportunities, such as unusual events, colorful scenes, smiling children, or celebrity appearances.
Pitching Yourself as “The Expert”
Journalists are always looking for experts on a variety of topics for feature stories. Send a letter to a specific reporter with an idea for a story and offer your help in developing it. Describe why you or someone in your club qualifies as an expert on a particular issue, such as literacy, water, eliminating global poverty, environmental stewardship, or conflict resolution. Include the names of people available for interviews, project information, and related story angles. Tailor the letter to the reporter and the medium as much as possible. Consider these tips:
Letter to the Editor
The editorial page is one of the most-read sections of the newspaper, and your letter can reach many people. Keep these tips in mind when sending a letter to the editor:
An op-ed (positioned opposite the editorial page) is an opinion piece written by an individual who is not on the newspaper’s staff. Before writing an op-ed for your paper, learn what topics are of interest to your community. An op-ed should:
Review the op-ed pieces in your paper before submitting your own. Like a letter to the editor, an op-ed should be brief and clearly stated.
A fact sheet provides details about Rotary programs to ensure journalists have accurate background information. You can download Rotary fact sheets from the Public Relations section at www.rotary.org.
On occasion, reporters require more information than appears in a press release, particularly at events.
A media kit is a pocket folder, preferably with a Rotary identifier, that holds general information about Rotary and your club as well as materials tailored to the event.
Your media kit should include: