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Basics

Why Bother?
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.

Timing
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.

Three Types
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...

Etc.

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.

Media Bias
"But isn't the media biased against Christianity?" Probably, but here's why it usually doesn't make much difference.

 

The News Story

A news story is simply an article or broadcast report about what is happening, or has recently happened, locally or around the world.

Many news events are, of course, unanticipated, and I will set those aside with the admonition that if a 747 lands in your parking lot, you should call the newspaper.

Now, of those that are anticipated, some will be important enough to merit a newspaper sending a reporter to cover them, and others will not.

For example, if it is an event that would be of broad interest to the community, such as the mayor or police chief speaking, or a pro quarterback giving his testimony, or a regional conference on racial reconcilliation (as in the example below), then it is quite likely the local newspaper will attend.

On the other hand, if the event is primarily an internal church affair, such as a vote on whether to hire a new pastor for teen ministry, it is less likely the newspaper will send a reporter.

However, in both cases it may be possible to get a story in the newspaper.

If you send in a press release before the event in hopes that a reporter will attend, the format is essentially that of a coming event press release, but include as much information as you can. Also, stuff brochures and fliers and other information about the event into the envelope as well.

If you don't think a reporter will come then you can be the reporter and send in your own report soon after the event happens. (By "soon after," I mean within the next day or two.)

If you do send in your own story on an event, be sure to put the most important stuff right at the top, then trail off to the less important stuff. No meandering. Get to the point fast!


Examples

NEWS RELEASE - Conference on Racial Reconciliation

April 24, 1999

First Avenue Church
123 N. First Ave.
Hometown, CA 91111

Contact: Pastor Bill Jones, (818) 555-1212

Racial Reconciliation Conference to be Held May 14-16

A "Conference on Racial Reconciliation" will be held at First Avenue Church in Hometown on May 14-16 to focus on bringing Christians of various ethnic groups together in a unity undivided by race or social standing.

Speakers at the three-day event include Hometown Mayor Robert Billings; Pastor Cho Lee of Hometown's Second Street Church; Alabama Pastor Kelly Bruce, past president of the Reconciliation Project; Pastor Jaime Mendoza, director of the Hispanic Church Studies Department at Hometown Seminary; and Pastor Bill Jones of First Avenue Church.

The conference is the outgrowth of a vision shared by many local church leaders, that Christians in the Hometown area and across the United States would truly fulfill Jesus' command that they be one people, undivided by race or social standing.

Admission to the conference is free, but seating is limited. The event begins at 2 pm Friday, May 14, then resumes Saturday, May 15, at 8 am, and again on Sunday, May 16, at 3 pm. First Avenue Church is located at 123 N. First Ave. in Hometown. For further information call the church office at (818) 555-1212.

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PRESS RELEASE: Latino Ministries Pastor Selected

June 15, 1999

First Avenue Church
123 N. First Ave.
Hometown, CA 91111

Contacts: Carlos Mendoza, Pastor of Latino Ministries, (818) 555-1212 x42490

New Pastor Selected for First Avenue Latino Ministries

With the approval of the congregation on Sunday, June 13, First Avenue Church of Hometown has formally accepted Carlos Mendoza as its Pastor of Latino Ministries. Pastor Mendoza has been serving as the church's interim pastor in that position since July 1, 1998.

Mendoza was born and raised in Costa Rica. He graduated from the National College of San Juan with a degree in elementary education, then went on to study at Central America Bible Institute, where he received a degree in Biblical studies.

In Costa Rica, he taught at various Christian schools, served as a director of Christian education and counseling, worked as a director of a Christian camp ministry.

Mendoza will lead First Avenue Church's Spanish-speaking worship service, La Communidad, will oversee the church's English as a Second Language program, neighborhood tutoring program, soccer outreach, leadership training, and other ministries.

Pastor Mendoza and his wife Lupe have been married 22 years. They have two children, Paulo and Carla.

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Copyright 1999 Brad Haugaard.