Why it is worth your time to write a press release, and why beginners have a special advantage.
Where To Send It
Some tips on finding appropriate publications to send your press release to.
The most frequent and fatal error in writing a press release, and how not to make it.
A Few Points of Style
A few stylistic points, for the press release and yourself.
of Press Release
1. Coming Event
Let's start easy. Let the community know about special events at your church.
2. Feature Story
What interesting people are there at your church? This could even land you on the front page - maybe.
3. News Story
What newsworthy event will happen at your church? Last not because it is least, but because it is less frequent that you'll be able to use it. But some day...
What to Write About
"But nothing's happening at my church." Bet there is. And if there isn't, there's more wrong with your church than a press release can fix.
"But isn't the media biased against Christianity?" Probably, but here's why it usually doesn't make much difference.
Where Should I Send It?
Probably not to Time magazine, though there may be occasions...
For most churches, I'd recommend sending press releases to local newspapers and magazines, including those for adjacent communities, online city guides, regional Christian publications and radio stations, regional topical publications (seniors, parents, youth, entertainment, etc.) and local sections of metro newspapers.
For some major events you might want to include broader-based media, such as major television and radio stations.
Here are some suggestions for finding media that would be likely to publish your press release:
Click over to American Journalism Review's ARJ NewsLink. This site has a geographic listing of information for most of the daily and weekly papers, plus magazines, radio and TV.
Also, take a glance at Yahoo's local pages. Again, track down your community (and nearby communities) and look in the media section. And don't neglect the various online community services. Many communities have these now.
Or, jog down to your local public library and look in the reference section for:
- Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, formerly known as Ayer Directory of Publications. Come knowing all your surrounding communities. This guide should have all the North American media that have been around long enough to have their feet on the ground.
- Another good reference is Working Press of the Nation. Same sort of information.
- If you need to contact international (non-North American) media, check out Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory.
Pick up copies of all the local daily and weekly newspapers. Usually on page two or three is a box with a bunch of itty-bitty type that gives all the contact information you could ever want. If you don't find it there (unlikely, but possible), keep poking around. Try the editorial page and see if there is an address to send letters to the editor. Keep your eye out for e-mail addresses; they make your life a lot simpler.
Any time you are at a newsstand, in the library, outside a restaurant, look for little throw-away, niche newspapers. In my area there are community publications, entertainment publications, senior publications, children's publications, all sorts of places to send a press release.
Are there any regional Christian newspapers or magazines in your area? Don't forget to include them.
Once you gather all this information, plug it into a spreadsheet or database program. I use the simple Works database that comes already installed on most computers. You might also want to create a few mailing lists with your e-mail program. You might have a "General Press Release" list, a "Seniors Press Release," a "Children's Press Release" list; whatever is best for your community.
© Copyright 1999 Brad Haugaard.