A media release, video release, press statement, news release, or press release is a recorded or written communication/statement directly addressed to media members purposely to announce some information ostensibly newsworthy (McIntyre, 2002). Press releases are mailed, or directly faxed to the editorial team at radio stations, television networks, or newspapers for editing before being released. The press release may cover advance stories, features, event stories, results, and discoveries. The information released in either form must be very accurate and timely. The primary objective of any media release is to attract the audience’s attention and be educative or informative (McIntyre, 2002).
Press Release Format
Any news release should conform to the standardized format in order to enable the editorial team to determine its identity in terms of its content and sender. As an identity tool, the media release should have complete addresses of the sender with these details indicated on the extreme left corner of cover page (McIntyre, 2002). The following details about the sender should be provided in the release: name of the sending organization, contact person’s email address and phone number(s) to enable the editors’ desk to get in touch with the sender when need arises (McIntyre, 2002). In addition, the press release should be dated with the release date appearing below the physical address block. To facilitate the internet search process, the sender should provide the internet link(s) so as to enable the newsroom department to conduct a quick search on the efficiency and accuracy of the press. Besides, the organizational websites should be provided to make it possible for the news room to access additional information on the topic covered in the release (McIntyre, 2002).
It is important for the news sender to provide visuals such as graphs, charts, or photographs since such pictures provide visual impression to the readers. Pictures and visual presentations also draw the readers into the main story by illustrating the major findings in visual form (McIntyre, 2002). The press release should be well written and addressed to the right audience. For the press to be covered in the newspapers or magazine, then, it must be written in a language that is simple and easy for the readers to understand its message or topic being addressed. The press release should be written using correct and simple sentences averaging twenty words, structured in short paragraphs and written in active voice (McIntyre, 2002).
A press release must cover the journalism’s five W’s. Any news must address the who, when, what, where, and why (the 5W’s) particularly for the issue of the release (McIntyre, 2002). For example, the “The Drama Team will participate in the National Music Festivals at Cinema Hall, Nairobi on September 1, 2013”. The timing of the story or release is very critical. The press release should be sent in time for it to be important and meaningful. The release must therefore be sent to the editors desk early enough to allow for its verification and publication. Other than the timing of the release, a good media release should contain localized information in its primary context (McIntyre, 2002).
A news release may be rejected when it fails to meet the minimum release standards. For instance, a media release that is poorly written, lacks important information, too lengthy, not newsworthy, written for public relations rather than the public, untimely, or addressed to the wrong audience will automatically be rejected by the publishing team (McIntyre, 2002). In conclusion, in addition to confirm to these acceptance conditions, it is important for the press release to confirm to the 5W’s standards, otherwise it would face rejection.
McIntyre, C. V. (2002). Writing Effective News Releases-: How To Get Free Publicity For Yourself, Your Business, or Your Organization. Colorado Springs, CO: Piccadilly Books.