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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.

 

Why Bother Writing Press Releases?

Because Jesus said to take the gospel to the world (Mt. 28:19), and this is one way to help do that. Here are a few reasons why it's a good way:

It's Cheap: On average, I spend maybe two hours a month working on press releases. I use e-mail for many of them, so since I had the e-mail account anyway, that costs nothing. And on those occasions when I want to make a really nice impression, I'd have to throw in the cost of envelopes, stamps and a few sheets of paper. So, it's cheap in time and, at most, runs a few dollars a month for snail mail.

It's Effective: With a single letter you can communicate with thousands or even tens of thousands of people outside your congregation.

It's Easy: If you can write a notice about the upcoming high school group's Christmas play to distribute to the congregation, you have essentially written a press release. Just fold it in thirds, pop it in an envelope and send it to the local newspaper. I'm exagerating, but just a little.

It's Encouraging: When people see their church featured -- or even mentioned in passing -- in a local publication or broadcast, it is uplifting for them.

And, Beginners Have an Advantage: If your church has never sent out a press release, you have a couple big advantages. First, editors get tired of hearing from the same publicity hounds time and again. Since they haven't heard from you before, that makes you interesting. Second, you can pick from among all the story possibilities at your church. You haven't used any of them yet. Try selling an editor on the idea of doing another story about the same topic. Now that's tough!

 
When You're Discouraged

Guess what? Many of your published press releases will seem to have no impact whatsoever. Nobody new will show up at your event. Nobody will even call.

So why bother doing it?

Because every time a person sees your church mentioned in a publication -- whether he shows up to an event or not -- that person has gotten to know a little bit more about your church. He or she knows that good things happen at your church, that there are people there who are doing stuff. It isn't a warehouse filled with wooden crates.

And someday, maybe someday, that person will feel the tug of God upon his heart and will decide to go to church. And with your church in mind, he or she may choose to visit you.

Sadly, in many cases you won't know you had a part in that visit. Even if you asked the visitor, he probably wouldn't remember reading the notices you put out. But still, the impression you left may be one of the reasons that person decided to come.

So remind yourself that your reward is in heaven. Everything will be made clear there. And for now, be encouraged and enjoy those occasions when you do see a response.

Copyright 1999 Brad Haugaard.