Tactical Package 1: News Release, Fact Sheet and Pitch Letter
Purpose: To practice and polish your basic public relations writing skills, you will strategize and write a news release, an accompanying fact sheet, and a pitch letter for the public relations situation and organization you chose for your Analysis of Strategic Publics paper.
Part 1: News Release
Write a release (not to exceed two pages) that will help you communicate, via the mass media, with one of the strategic publics you identified in your first paper. Please see page 247 of Treadwell for the standard news release format.
Even the most basic press releases or fact sheets deserves some strategic thought. Before you write, you must understand what you are trying to accomplish with the release and how best to accomplish it. When you write, you must be sure that your writing remains focused on your intended audiences. To assist you with that, you may want to complete the “Writing Outline Form” (found in the Getting Started course folder).
The publication’s readership. WHO is your audience? In other words, which strategic public(s) are you trying to reach via the media? Figure that out and write for them while also writing to capture the attention of the media contact person.
What is your story angle? What’s going to resonate with your strategic public?
Readers always want to know “What’s in it for me?” What do they want to know? What do you want them to know?
How will you answer the “so what” question?
What is your end game? WHAT do you want your audience to do?
Remember to use quotes to give your story interest. You may “create” quotes or borrow real quotes from people quoted in the media coverage you examined in your first paper (don’t worry about the implications of Turnitin here).
Carefully read pp. 237-240 in Treadwell about writing in the inverted pyramid style.
Part 2: Fact Sheet
Create a one-page fact sheet to accompany your news release. It can be about the organization, the topic, the Big Wig person quoted in your news release, etc. Choose a format (bullet point, timeline or FAQ) appropriate to your goal and subject.
Part 3: Feature Pitch
Write a letter/email for the issue/organization you identified in the Analysis of Strategic Publics paper that pitches an idea for a feature article to a specific reporter at a certain news outlet. This could be a newspaper, television news, magazine, blog, or other appropriate media. The key is to align the pitch with the outlet that serves your target stakeholder(s).
Situation: Identify a story for which coverage would benefit the issue/organization. Address it to a real reporter or editor (this can usually be found on the publication’s website). Your selection should be appropriate for the story angle you’re pitching. Follow the instructions on the “Media Relations and Pitching” Slideshare.
Remember, you are suggesting a story idea of interest to their readers. They are not usually swayed by persuasive appeals about their need/obligation to “do good” for others. There are many worthy organizations and programs out there that deserve coverage—why will this make a GOOD STORY of interest to their readers? Tell them what’s in it for the publication and their readers, not just how this will benefit your organization.
With pitch letters, less is more. Use short paragraphs (1-3 sentences). Your letter should be no more than 1 page (typically 4-5 paragraphs).
Use the first paragraph to grab the reporter’s attention, and end by indicating when you’ll follow up to provide more info.
Sign YOUR name.
Your feature pitch should not include all of the details of the story, but enough to get the reporter interested. Use your most interesting, compelling facts, emotional appeals, examples or other elements to sell the story. Go with a local angle and offer interview opportunities.
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