By Katrina Olson
This article originally appeared 11/9/2015 as an Exclusive Feature on tedmag.com.
If you’ve been following along the past several weeks, you know there’s a lot to remember when planning, writing and distributing news releases. That’s why we’ve developed this handy checklist. Whether you need inspiration to begin, something to jog your memory, or a nudge to tie it all together, use the extensive list below to help you get started on, round out, or finish up your news release.
☐ Is the content important to your geographic area?
☐ Are you targeting a specific industry?
☐ Do you know whom you want to reach with this release?
☐ Have you researched the target audience?
☐ Have you properly packaged the news release as an announcement, feature, hybrid, launch or other type?
☐ Is your story newsworthy?
☐ Is the content interesting, relevant, timely or unique?
☐ Will it make an impact on your intended audience?
☐ Is there a good reason why your target public(s) should care about this information or will benefit from reading it?
☐ Does the news release help achieve a specific public relations goal or objective?
☐ Do you know what you want to happen as a result of the news release?
☐ Do you have a strong lead or hook?
☐ Have you covered the basics?
- contact information for media (including phones, emails)
- “News Release” and “For Immediate Release” at the top
- headline and subhead if needed for clarification
- release date
- answers to the who, what, when, where, and why questions
- quotes from key players in the story
- contact/follow-up information for reader (including addresses, phones, emails)
- boilerplate: brief bio about your company
- note to the editor (if necessary)
☐ Have you double-checked your facts, statistics and claims?
☐ Are claims and statistics factual, unbiased and accurate?
☐ Have you used reputable sources and attributed them?
☐ Does the news release contain specifics and avoid generalities?
☐ Does it contain pertinent, insightful or attention-getting quotes and are they attributed?
☐ Is it concise, not wordy, and to the point without unnecessary or off-topic information?
☐ Is it too salesy or promotional?
☐ Do you need to provide any “Notes to the Editor”? If so, put them after the “###” or “30.”
☐ Have you told them what they need to know to achieve your PR goal?
☐ Did you write the news release in third person?
☐ Did you use the inverted pyramid, putting the most important information first with the remaining info in descending order of importance?
☐ Is there a human-interest angle?
☐ Have you eliminated the fluff?
☐ Does the content flow logically?
☐ Is it “on message”?
☐ Did you edit and proofread for clarity, word choice, grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation using Associated Press (AP) Style?
☐ Did you double check dates, days of the week, capitalization, facts, name spellings and company names?
☐ Is it single-spaced (digital) or double-spaced (hard copies)?
☐ If it’s more than one page, have you typed, “—more—” at the bottom of the page and subsequent pages except the last page?
☐ Have you included a slug (a condensed version of the headline and page number) at the top of the second page and subsequent pages except the last page?
☐ Did you signal the end of the release with the triple hashtags (###) or —30— at the bottom of the last page?
☐ Have you considered where to send your news release to be seen by those you want to reach?
☐ Have you considered the best timing for this news release?
☐ Have you used SEO optimization if distributing your news release online?
☐ Have you considered whether the recipients prefer emails or hard copies?
☐ Have you considered using a free or fee-based distribution service?
☐ Do you have s measurement or tracking tool in place to monitor coverage and/or placements?
Print this checklist, copy and paste it into a Word document or take a screen shot and keep it on your desktop. Keep it handy when you’re writing press releases and you’ll never forget something important.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at email@example.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.