From Media for Social Change: A Resource Guide
for Community Groups (Revised edition, 1986), published by the Community
Forum on Shared Responsibility, Toronto.
News releases (radio and television reporters don't like the term
'press release') can be used when your group has information it
wants distributed quickly and widely. A news release should be simple,
timely, short and broadly accessible. It can either stand on its
own or entice reported to follow it up by seeking more information.
For maximum impact, news release should follow standard journalistic
-60 character lines
- paragraphs indented half a line
- typed in upper and lower case letters
-wide margins for copy editors' marks
- don't put underlining on the page; it confuses typesetters and
won't appear in a newspaper anyway
- on the upper right corner, type release times: For immediate release
on (date); Embargoed until (time, date).
- For immediate release give a headline. It should be teaser to
lead the reader into the story.
- Dateline, typed in upper case letters, indicates where the story
has come from
- use one side of page only
two pages maximum
- end with -30-
- give name of contact person day and night
In terms of content, tell the story in newspaper-like, inverted
- give the most crucial information first. The first paragraphs
should quickly answer the five standard questions of news writing:
Who, What, When, Where and Why. The succeeding paragraphs should
develop the facts in descending order of importance.
- give a time peg, to relate the story to the immediate present.
Stories can also be based on anniversaries, such as those of major
speeches, strikes, assassinations or deaths. The Socialist International
calendar is a good source for anniversary dates.
- give a local angle: "North York mayor bites dog''
- give an angle tailored to the media you are trying to reach: ``Steelworker
arrested'' (a story for union papers); ``Catholic priest arrested''
(story for church papers).
Other points to keep in mind when issuing news releases include
- there may be a niche for your story in the special interest media,
such as the medical papers, local papers, small-town radio stations,
or church newsletters
- out of town and small news outlets will be grateful for photographs,
so supply them with action shots, or close up shots
- if you have photos, but don't wish to send them out unless requested,
note on the news release that they are available, and list them.
Also list audio tapes and video, if available.
- you might wish to include a photocopy of photos: get a dot sheet
from photocopy manufactures; it can be used with any photocopier
and provides fairly good reproductions.
- include a cutline with the photo, identifying people left to right.
Give full name, middle initial, and explain why they are in the
photo. Give extra details.
A quick way to get your news release around to most mainstream
media is to take it to Queen's Park and leave it in the Press Gallery
mailboxes of those outlets which have representatives there.
The standard guide to news style is The Canadian Press Style Guide,
(available 36 King St.E, Toronto, M5L 2L9). Conforming to standard
news style will make you material more acceptable to reporters and
It may be worthwhile to have your group included on the mailing
lists of government departments of special interest to your group.
Send a request to their public relations departments.
releases that work - and those that don't - What makes
a good news release.
news releases - 7 Must-Know Tips - Before you send out
a news release, make sure you know what's you're doing.
Names & Numbers - If you're going to contact the
media, you need a good media list. This directory (in print, online,
and also available as a database and mailing list) has listings
and contact information for all print and online media in Canada.
Also available as a database and mailing list.
Release Distribution - If you want to contact a lot of
media outlets at once, it may be better to use a news release dissemination
Calendar - If you are promoting an upcoming event that
you want the media to cover, you can list it in the Sources Calendar,
which reaches journalists across Canada. Listings are free if your
organization is listed in Sources; there is a small fee if
- The directory which connects organizations with messages to get
out to journalists looking for spokespeople and experts on the issues
they are covering. Both the online and print versions of Sources
are widely used by reporters, editors, producers and freelancers
working on stories.
- Web site featuring practical articles about media relations and
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