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Include contact information. Your name and phone number should be at the top left or right corner of the release so reporters can contact you if they have additional questions. If the public is supposed to call for reservations or information, include the phrase, “More information may be obtained by calling (phone number).”

Don’t forget a kill date. If your event or activity expires at a certain point (an event you are sponsoring or involved with), include a date reporters can kill the story. Place the kill date in the upper left hand corner of your release: “Do not use after (date).” Additionally, if a release is sent early to the media, include the statement, “Do not use before (date)” so the news doesn’t appear before other advertising is in place. This doesn’t always work with the media, but it doesn’t hurt to include it anyway.

Always answer the basic questions. Your submission doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. More than likely, a reporter will rewrite your release anyway. But do be sure to include the who, what, where, when, why and how of your news. You’d be surprised how many releases come across a reporter’s desk that include the time of an event but no date; a place, but no address; a name, but no explanation of who the person is.

First things first. State the most important facts in the first paragraph, the second most important facts in the second and so forth. One or two sentence paragraphs are standard in news releases.

Brevity is next to godliness. Never use a long word when a short one will do. If it’s possible to cut a word or sentence out without changing the meaning of the release, cut it out. Never use a foreign phrase or business jargon when plain English will do. Use direct quotes for color, pace and emphasis. Use “he said” or “she said” to attribute the quote. Include the person’s title when quoting them. Keep sentences under 18 words if possible. And be human. Relate your writing to other people.

The I’s never have it in releases. Never use the first person, even when you’re writing a quote for which you’re attributing yourself. Always use the objective third person tense – he, she, they.

White is right. If you mail the release, it should be printed out on white 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper or your letterhead. Do not send press releases out on colored paper. Also, double space the release and leave wide margins so editors or writers can make notes and corrections when they edit the release.