Start the Presses: Using a Press Release to Get Noticed

How do you get the message out about news, events, or programs in your community? The well-written press release remains a highly effective tool for local governments, businesses, and organizations. On November 18, 2015, the University of Wisconsin Extension held a program by local media expert, Daryl Fischer (QueenB Radio, Media Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Executive Director of the Cuba City, Wisconsin, Chamber of Commerce), to help communities to better communicate news, events, and programs.

The program was the first of a planned, three-part series on community communications. The three programs are:

  • effective press releases for community communications
  • serious social media for community organizations, and
  • responsive websites as a community communications tool.

Press Release Workshop Materials

2015 Press Release Media Contacts List — Grant County, Wisconsin

2015 10 Core Press Release Tips

Start the Presses Slide Show Presentation on Press Releases PDF

10 Tips for Effective Press Releases for Community Organizations

Focus on the Key Message

Make the key message the focal point of the press release
and stay focused

Define the Target Audience

Who is the target audience for your key message and what do they need to know?

Audience Action

What should the audience do as a result of your key message?

Consider the Medium

When developing the press release, consider the medium in which it will appear. You may need to develop different press releases for different media.

Media Action Desired

What do you want the press release recipients to do as a result of the message—schedule an interview, attend an event, publish the information?

Keep the Press Release News Centered

  • Who, what, where, when, and how
  • Avoid advertisements (and disguised ads)

Use the Inverted Pyramid

  • Structure the release to put the most important information first
  • The lead (vital information in a nutshell)
  • The body (additional details)
  • Supporting and supplemental materials (other relevant information to support the press release)

Include the Essential Details Release date

  • Media contact at your organization
  • Headline
  • Body of release with the details
  • Company/organization information
  • Relevant supplemental information

Edit the Release

Edit the release and narrow to the key elements.

Distribute the Press Release

When and where should the press release be distributed?
Consider publication deadlines (which may be a week or more before publication)