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How to write one press release for many events?
December 20, 2007 9:58 AM   Subscribe

How can I write a good press release for an entire calendar of events? (As opposed to just a single event)

I've just become publicity chair of a film society, and I have very little publicity experience. I've never written a press release before.

We show one or two movies every night of each semester, with a couple of special events (director visits, sneak previews, and so on) thrown in. Each week night is devoted to a series (Hitchcock on Wednesdays, Sexploitation on Thursdays, etc.)

So, there's a lot to fit into a press release.

Traditionally we've sent out one press release at the beginning of the quarter announcing the entire calendar - a prewritten article sort of thing enthusing about the calendar and highlighting some of the interesting things we're showing, with our whole calendar tacked onto the end. I'm fairly sure that the main purpose of this release is to get our calendar into local events listings - as far as I know we've rarely gotten actual press coverage. Sometimes we've issued releases for special events, but not always.

My impulse is to do things a little differently, but I'm not sure whether to trust my impulses.

I think it might be better to make one release for each of the five series, one for each special event, and one announcing the calendar in more bare-bones form.

This new calendar release would, instead of a prewritten article thing, have several bullet-pointed calendar highlights, our location, admission prices, etc, followed by the calendar itself.

Is it okay to use bullet points, or do reporters really prefer to dig through a prewritten article? (I suppose that has the benefit of letting them crib from what's written.)

Is it okay/effective for one organization to send out six different press releases at one time (as I'd do if I followed my plan of one per series, one for the calendar)?
posted by bubukaba to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't send six press releases. You are looking to be effective but not overbearing. What you really want is to get journalists to attend your event. I would suggest that you do a media evening coinciding with an upcoming director evening or other special event. So you would issue a press release as normal, then when a director or other VIP is coming you make personal calls to all of the journalists you want to hit and offer them a screening of said film, a catered snack ensemble and an hour q-a with the VIP.
posted by parmanparman at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2007


We really only need journalists present at our big events, for which I'd be sending out releases after the calendar release.

The main calendar is essentially a movie theater schedule. It needs to be in the local calendar listings, that's the main thing - but it seems appropriate to highlight a few of our particularly remarkable nightly screenings just in case some reporter wants to write an article about us doing a Hitchcock series or something.
posted by bubukaba at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2007


You can, and should, provide ready-to-read copy for radio announcements. For press you don't want a prewritten piece, because it will look bad if two papers run it verbatim as an article. Instead give a template that basicaly does their work for them, but that can be edited down and rearranged. Have a bunch of succinct quotes ready to give when a reporter calls, let them know that the quote is theirs alone, and then cross it off the list.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:29 AM on December 20, 2007


I'd try something like:

Start with a paragraph that gives an overview of the program and mention that each night has a different emphasis.

Then, describe the six different nights in six *short* paragraphs. Begin each of these paragraphs with the day of the week, so that it will be very easy for a reader to scan through the paragraphs and find the one he/she is interested in. Keep them very short - one sentence, or two short sentences. Begin each of these six items with a short phrase that would stand on its own - keep in mind that the descriptions may be truncated, and make it easy for someone to truncate if they need to.

Next, make sure the rest of the press release can read just as well with those six paragraphs completely omitted.

It sounds like you're contemplating a similar approach anyway; the main idea I'm introducing is, I guess, that the six descriptions would be optional, and that the rest of the text would make sense with them left out.

I don't know whether bullet points are a good idea, but this essentially accomplishes the same thing.
posted by amtho at 11:12 AM on December 20, 2007


I do this - I work for a blood center, and we have several blood drives to publicize every month. Of course, we can't possibly publicize them all, but there are typically five or six a month that we do want to announce in the paper... just so the paper can run our blood drives on their own calendar. I'm copying and pasting an example, with names changed to generic examples.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
My name, (myname@email.com)
My title, my phone number



LIFE-SAVING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CITY NAME, JAN. 2008

Participate in any of the following blood drives this month at:
City Neighborhood Donor Center
Address
City, State ZIP

Dec. 26 through Jan. 31: Radio Station blood drive
Random radio station continues its post-holiday blood drive through Jan. 31. Donate or attempt to donate and credit the station to receive a commemorative T-shirt.

Jan. 2 through 6: Other radio station blood drive
“Share Life” with Random Station and The Blood Center. Donate or attempt to donate and credit the station to receive a commemorative T-shirt. On Jan. 2, from 12 to 8 p.m., you also may participate at XYZ Mall.

Jan. 12 through 17: Sports team blood drive
The Generics will host their next blood drive in Neighborhood Donor Centers. Donate or attempt to donate and credit the team to receive a commemorative T-shirt and discount ticket voucher to a future game.

Jan. 24 through 30: TV station blood drive
Channel Whatever hosts its annual blood drive and encourages the public to continue saving lives in 2008. Donate or attempt to donate and credit the station to receive a commemorative T-shirt.

For more information on the items listed above, blood drive locations, hours of operation or to schedule your donation, visit www.ourwebsite.com or call 1(888) 555-5555.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


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