How To Create A Press Release
It's a big challenge to get the word out about your event without a budget. Fortunately, there are many publications that will list information about an upcoming class or graduation at no charge. The investment of some time on your computer sending email or completing web forms will be well rewarded!
It is important to follow the requirements for each publication to ensure your information will be accepted. To make life easy, policies are listed on the publications page with a link to the original information for each publication. Always double-check the publication's policy page, because requirements can change without notice.
The personal touch -- a phone call to the appropriate editor before the press release is sent and again to verify receipt -- is very important and will increase the chances that your information will be published!
Once the event is over, a quick followup briefly describing the results of the event (how many turned out or otherwise participated and a thank you for the listing) will ensure future coverage by the publication.
Publicity Lead Time
No matter how early you start, it seems like there isn't enough time! To meet the deadline for various publicity outlets, it will be necessary to send the information in early. Sometimes very early! Typical publication lead times are:
- Daily Publications: 2 - 3 weeks.
- Weekly Publications: 1 - 2 months.
- Monthly Publications: 2 - 3 months.
Remember to add a week for delivery time if you send regular mail through the post office!
Everything else will go much easier if you do this step first. To ensure coverage and minimize the need for the editor to call back for clarification, all of this information should be available for the press release:
- Who is invited (singles, couples, special interest), who is sponsoring the event, who will be teaching, calling, and/or cueing?
- What is the event -- an open class, a rusty dancer workshop, graduation, party night for experienced dancers (mainstream, plus, advanced, challenge level)? Is it square dancing, round dancing?
- When is it; day, dates, and time? (Example: Saturday, September 7, 14, 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM).
- Name of the facility, street address, city, zip code.
- The joy of moving to music, exercise for the body and mind, square dance conventions nearby & and far away.
- For classes: No previous experience necessary, no special skill or grace required, casual dress, walking shoes recommended.
- Always: Cost to attend, visit the website at http://address.com/event_page.html, contact name & phone number & email address for more information.
- Square dancing is the official California folk dance; the various moves have been standardized, making it possible to square dance around the world; a brief description of instructor caller's name including years of experience, member of Callerlab or American Callers Association (ask to be sure which!)
Creating the Press Release
While creating the press release, add a web page to the club's website announcing the event. Get the web address for that page -- the "URL" -- from the webmaster. You will need this information in the press release.
Also make sure there is a large, easy-to-find link to this page from the website's home page. It is possible some publications will only print the domain name and not the complete link to the proper page.
This sounds hard because it's difficult to write something brand new. Fortunately, you don't have to do that -- just look at the community announcements page and see what it says. Examples are also shown on the releases page.
Use the same writing style, same type of introduction. Include all of the information you've so-carefully gathered about the event.
Is there something unusual about the event? Is the caller flying in from a distant location, have they performed in foreign countries, are they recording artists (which label?), are they officers of a dance organization such as Callerlab or ARTS?
This sort of information is especially important to editors, who may decide to upgrade your press release from "community news" to "news" and assign a reporter to cover it. Put this information at the top of your press release!
The first paragraph should contain the basic key information, with the following paragraphs providing additional details. When reporters write a story, they do so in three parts: tell the reader what they are going to say, say it, then explain what they said. They do this to ensure all the facts get across regardless of the amount of editing that occurs.
An editor's job is to cut, so don't be surprised if some of the information does not make it into print. On the other hand, an editor cannot create information, so it's okay to provide more information without getting wordy. If there's a slow news day, the community news section may be expanded -- which means additional coverage.
Sample Press Releases
Other Sample Press Releases
No two "standard formats" are identical. Pick a method and stick with it!
Callerlab has created a reference document filled with sample press releases covering a variety of square dance activities.
- Announcing a square dance demonstration
- Announcing new square dance classes
- A square dance graduation
- A coming square dance clinic
- Announcing a new accredited member of Callerlab
- Appointment of a square dance club caller
- Covering square dance convention attendance
- Square dance election results
- A special square dance event
- A square dance caller's tour
Callerlab Press Book
Communications and PR Committee
Courtesy of Dick Neumann
- Check The Submission Policy For Each Publication
- Every publication looks for different information and requires different submission techniques.
Read the policy before submission to avoid delay. To make life easy, the recent version of the policy
is shown (when available) for the newspapers listed on the publications page. However -- follow the link
to the published policy to see if there have been any changes since this page was last updated!
- Submit Early
- Send your press release in plenty of time for consideration. Editors are constantly faced with pressure-cooker deadlines and last-minute changes that can interfere with thoughtful consideration.
Avoid adding to that pressure to ensure the best chance of publication. Early submission gives the editors a chance to consider the newsworthiness of your item and may assign a reporter to cover the activity.
- The Personal Touch
- Call the editor before sending the press release to see if there are any concerns not stated in the website policy. Verify the submission address for accuracy.
- Call the editor two or three days after sending the press release to ensure it was received in good order. Offer to answer any questions.
- Include An Image
- Sometimes, a publication will have space for line art to illustrate your information. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it enhances the appearance of the article and increases turnout to the event. Most publications don't have any specific clip art for square dancing. Including it with your item increases the possibility of publication and good placement.
- • Colorado Square Dancing Icons & Clipart
- • Kens Country & Western Clipart
- • Lysle Art
- • TwoStep Tidewater Dance Clip Art Collection
- Keep A Record
- Do I have to? No. However, it is a great organizing tool and will provide an invaluable reference for future publicity efforts. Most importantly, it keeps you from accidentally submitting the same press release twice -- a tactic that has been known to cause chaos in the newsroom that results in zero coverage.
- However, if there is a change, be sure to put a headline at the very top that says "** UPDATES PREVIOUS RELEASE DATED xx/xx/xxxx **" (replace the xx's with the date on the previous release).
- Keep track of phone calls to editors, submission dates, followup phone calls, publication date.
- Keep a clipping of the published information in your notebook for future reference.
- Thank You Note
- Probably the most difficult part of the process. After the event is complete, immediately send a "thank you" note to the editor expressing appreciation for the coverage. Briefly mention the turnout and any interesting developments that may have occurred during the event. Editing is a thankless job, which means your "thank you" will stand out from the crowd and leave a good impression. This will result in easier future consideration during the next promotional effort.
Publications are organized by area covered:
- City & Neighborhood
- Special Interest & Affinity Groups
Disclaimer: Links to other websites are informational and do not necessarily constitute an endorsement by the San Diego Callers Association or any of its members.