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International Gay Rodeo Association
Rodeo Production Guidebook

Writing a Successful Press Release

A press release is one of the primary ways you can communicate news about your rodeo to the media. Reporters, editors, and producers are hungry for news, and they often depend on releases to tip them off to new and unusual events they can cover. In fact, much of what you read in newspapers, magazines, or trade publications, hear on the radio or see on television originated in press release form. Unfortunately, the average editor receives as many as several hundred press releases each week, the vast majority of which end up getting "filed." Your challenge is to create a release that makes the journalist want to know more and discover that your story is one they must tell. Use these 10 tips to write a release that will get noticed.
  1. Use an active headline to grab the reporter's attention
    Be sure to date the press release and use a headline that makes your release stand out. Keep it short, active, and descriptive; in other words, use something like "Gay Rodeo [rodeo name] Offers Great Fun for All" instead of "{Association} stages [Rodeo Name}."

  2. Put the most important information at the beginning
    This is a tried and true rule of journalism. The reporter should be able to tell what the release is about from the first two paragraphs. In fact, chances are that's all they may read. So don't hide good information. And remember the "5 W's and the H" - make sure your release provides answers to Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

  3. Avoid hype and unsubstantiated claims
    A writer can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Instead of making over-inflated statements, provide real, usable information. Find legitimate ways to set you and your rodeo event apart and stress those points. To promote your event, write a release that answers questions about your particular rodeo and association, rather than one that provides only general statements about how great or interesting your rodeo is without saying why.

  4. Be active and to the point
    Use language that will get the reader as excited about your news as you are. If your release is boring or meandering, they may assume that you will not be a good interview.

  5. Keep your release to two pages or less
    On the rare occasion, you can opt for a third page if it is necessary to provide critical details. Otherwise, if you can't state your message in two pages, you're not getting to the point.

  6. Include a contact
    Make sure your release has a person who is easily accessible for the journalist to contact for more information. This person should be familiar with all the news in the release, and should be ready to answer questions. And issue the release on your association or rodeo letterhead - it looks professional and gives the writer another way to reach your firm. Be sure to make it easy for the reporter to research your rodeo and association; include your website address.

  7. Keep jargon to the minimum
    Try not to use technical rodeo terms. Many reporters are not as intimate with rodeo as you are. Real English, not jargon, best communicates your story.

  8. Stress benefits
    This falls into the category of "don't say it, show it." Avoid saying something is "unique" or "the best." Instead, show how people will benefit - i.e. save time, save money, make their life easier, etc. Finish with an "About IGRA section. This is a good location to put your "commercial" and say why your association is a worthy group.

  9. Be specific and detailed
    This is called this the "Yes, but what IS it?" syndrome. The reader needs to be able to visualize your rodeo, and know how to get tickets to your various events. If in doubt, have someone unfamiliar with your rodeo read the release and ask them to describe what you trying to publicize. And it's better to use too many details than too few.

  10. Proofread
    When you've finished your press release, remember to proof read it for typographical errors. If you don't have a good eye for spelling or grammar, give the release to a friend or colleague who does. If your release looks sloppy and careless, so will you.
First posted May 16, 2015
Last update Jan 1, 2016