The five ‘W’s need to be universally included on press releases.
Without them, you risk not having media pick up your story beforehand to publicize it. They may not show up to cover it either if they don’t know the details about what is happening because those details were missing from what you wrote.
A good press release will attract media and participants to your story or event.
You must include the location, the where. Be specific. Don’t leave any question about it. Provide an address. To say the craft sale is being held at Talbot Gardens is fine. But where is Talbot Gardens? Is it at 2614 Mann Street West?
In 11 years of journalism, I’ve see a lot of bad information in press releases. Locations have included lines like ‘Join us at the local community arena’ in a community with five arenas and ‘Meet us in the parking lot.’ What parking lot?
Who are you? Include your name, your business and other relevant information. It might sound silly but sometimes it matters. If you received an award from Apple, do you think Microsoft will publicize it? Same for Pampers and Huggies? A local newspaper wouldn’t write a story about my wife when she won an award for our business because the award was sponsored by one media group and the newspaper was part of another.
You need to include the details, the what and the why, whether it is a fundraiser you are organizing, an award you’ve won, a conference you’re organizing or a sale you are involved with. Reporters want specifics from the time it starts to estimated time of completion. I can attest to this: reporters try and plan their days, especially weekends and there are often conflicting assignments. We like to know if we have to be there at the opening or we can pop in at any time and get some photos and perform a few interviews.
If there is a conflict between a craft sale and the mayor’s state of the city address, the mayor will likely win more times than not.
But if your sale is happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the when, and you tell us that, there should be plenty of time to get there too.
Here’s the bottom line. Include a contact name and number. If all else fails and your press release still isn’t great, at least there is a name and phone number a reporter can call to clear up the details. And make sure whatever phone number you leave on your release has a voice mail. Nobody, reporters included, like to have to call and call about something. If you can’t connect with someone, you leave a message and wait for a call back.