Knowing your audience

TTI PEC virtual write shop: Writing news releases that make an impact

By 14 August 2014

  • David J. Olson

    Felix, I have a few comments on the press release you posted above.

    First, it is obviously a traditional press release, not an online news release. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you might consider an online news release in the future so that people can find your research through search engines. Since this is a traditional press release, don’t you want to include a name and contact information of someone at KIPPRA as a point of contact for reporters?

    My main comment about this release is that you have a very good story here but the lead is buried. Instead, the release begins with a very dry description of National Transfer Accounts. I suggest a lead along these lines:

    “For most Kenyans, retirement is just a dream, new findings have revealed. Because a large percentage of the population is engaged in unregulated informal activities, most people work throughout most of their lives, often starting in childhood, without the option of retiring, according to research presented at the 2nd National Transfer Accounts Workshop in Nairobi on 8th November.”

    I think more people will be drawn in with a compelling lead that connects to their own lives.

    You use the acronym “KICC” in the headline but after reading the entire release, I still have no idea what KICC is.

    Finally, footnotes are not normally used on a press or news release. Instead, you can either insert a brief reference in the body of the release, or not use them at all.

  • Naomi Lucas

    I found the tipsheet on writing SEO friendly press releases extremely valuable. In this day of clutter and very limited budgets, knowing one or two tricks for getting on top of the pile doesn’t hurt.

    Sola, Drusilla and Job, I strongly recommend you check out the content.

    • Sola Oluwadare

      Thanks Naomi, already doing same.

      • Naomi Lucas

        You’re welcome.

  • Naomi Lucas

    Sola, I really like your press release. The most important information, all of it, was captured in the first paragraph so even if that’s all that is read, you got your message across. I also like that it was concise. I don’t see a media house editing it. Well done.

    • David J. Olson

      I agree with Naomi that this AfriHeritage press release is excellent. The main point is in the first paragraph. The second paragraph explains why the institution is rebranding. And the rest of the release gives further details about AfriHeritage and its place in the Nigerian and African environment. And it’s all on one page. One small quibble: Although you give contact information for the institution, there is no specific contact information for the reporter to contact you. Is that not normal practice in Nigeria? I noticed Felix also did not have this information on his press release (see my comment below).

      • Naomi Lucas

        DIfferent strokes I guess. Sola Oluwadare, care to respond to David’s comment? Being a journalist who has worked extensively in Nigeria, I’m sure you can shed more light on this…

        • Sola Oluwadare

          David and Naomi, actually there is no hard and fast rule about putting the
          contact information on press release in Nigeria having worked as a journalist
          in the country. The fact remains that every press release goes with my email
          signature. Besides, having cultivated a robust relationship with the users (the
          journalists in this case), they have all the contact information they need even
          if it’s not in the mail signature. In fact, it’s treated same if sent through
          mobile phone sms.
          In all, the suggestion is useful, the reason I gave it out here in the first place- quest for improvement.

          • Naomi Lucas

            Well said Sola. Thanks.

  • Naomi Lucas

    Constantine, thank you for your account on STIPRO’s media strategy. The strongest point for me is working with associations instead of individual journalists. It’s one of the most effective strategies ever. For any TT struggling to get the word out there, you should read Constantine’s article…

  • Shubha Jayaram

    It has been very interesting reading through the press releases shared by the three think tanks, and I agree with many of the comments below. Thanks to all for sharing!

    Constantine, I thought that your press release was very clear and I like that each paragraph has a distinct point. My one suggestion is that the last paragraph touches on a different event, and I was eager to hear more about the focus and questions that will be explored in that discussion. I also noticed you also had a separate release on that. Given this, perhaps you can omit the last paragraph or another suggestion may be to say something like “In collaboration with COSTECH, STIPRO will also host two round- table discussions on 1st July 2014 that will focus on “Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Local Technological and Innovation Capability Building”. More information about this event can be found here: [insert link to other press release]”. Just an idea – looking forward to your thoughts.

  • Courtney Tolmie

    Thanks to everyone for sharing these resources and press releases! The 8 tips piece from PR Daily really resonates – incredibly hlpful!

  • David J. Olson

    I have a few comments about Constantine’s press release (see link above). Instead of filling the
    first paragraph with dull details of the workshop, I suggest focusing on the most important aspect of the meeting. How about something like this?

    “The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) will focus on its research agenda’s efforts to address poverty, disease and ignorance in Tanzania in a meeting to review its five-year strategic plan on 30th June.”

    You can move all the other details about the time and location of the meeting, and its guest speaker, further down in the release.

    It is important to put something in the lead that makes people want to read on. I think the lead I suggest will prompt more people to read on.

    This press release has only the executive director’s name and email address displayed. Do you want any press inquiries to go directly to her? If so, this is fine. If not, you should have the appropriate person’s name and contact information.

    I do like that the release is concise and all on one page.

  • Costantine Deus

    Dear All, i wish to thank David, Shubha, and Naoni for your comments. The comments are very informative and from them i have drawn so many lessons and i am happy being part of the group, it has been a great opportunity for improvement