Frequently asked questions about press releases
A press release is a document that alerts the print media (newspapers and magazines) of an upcoming newsworthy event. It can be written in such a way that they will be eager to promote the event in advance, cover the event as it happens, and/or interview the lecturer. There is a basic format that press releases follow and the media expects to receive.
Check our Downloadable materials page for a template and sample press release. Also check on your lecturer’s bio page on this website or with your lecturer to see if he or she has already created a press release for the lecture.
If you are in the UK, you can contact our UK Media Consultant, Philippa Chatterly, to help create a press release and contact newspapers. She is available at email@example.com or +44 (0)1564 730048.
If you are in Germany, you can contact our German Media Consultant, Monika Jopp, to help create a press release and contact newspapers. She is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or +49 (0)2151 966688.
For more information on resources available to branches worldwide, review our support services flyer.
“What makes a press release successful?”
A successful press release is one that has the best opportunity to generate an article in the newspaper (some smaller newspapers may publish a press release as submitted). It needs to be totally professional and should convey the fact that your upcoming lecture will be sharing Christian Science—universal healing laws useful to everyone, including people of all faiths or of no faith.
“We’ve tried press releases before. They never get in the paper.”
We’ve heard many accounts from branches that have recently obtained an interview for their lecturer after years of having no success. Your prayers in support of the press release are important.
Editors are inundated with press releases. To get information about your lecture in the paper, submit a press release that’s simple, clear, and to the point. Keep in mind that you’re promoting an event, not your church. The content of the lecture is what’s newsworthy, and if your lecture promotion talks about Christ-healing as available to everyone rather than just to a select group of people, it is more likely it will run in a newspaper.
Your goal is to make the editors see the newsworthiness of the upcoming event and to submit a press release that needs very little editing.
Because editors get so many press releases, it may be helpful to send your press release to the editor of a particular section (Life, Health, Events) or to a particular journalist who has shown interest in spirituality or health. These individuals may have more opportunity to review your press release.
The Lecture/Publicity Consultant is available to review and comment on your draft press releases at your request prior to being submitted to your lecturer for his/her approval.
“Do we just make a cold submission on the phone or by email?”
It works best to call the newspaper and find out the preferred way to receive a press release—via fax or email—and the date by which to submit it. Ask if they could supply names. It’s always a good idea to include a photo of the lecturer. High resolution, downloadable photos are now available on each lecturer’s Internet bio.
It is always preferable to use a contact name at the paper if you’ve got one. Ask your branch members if they have any contacts they can refer you to.
It is ethical to submit the same press release to more than one page editor at the paper and more than one paper at the same time.
“How do we actually write a press release? No one in our branch is a professional writer.”
- Review the template and samples provided at the bottom of this page.
- Underscore the dynamic nature of your lecture. No matter what the format of your lecture event, give the sense that this is a dynamic lecture—one where everyone who attends can walk away with ideas they can make practical in daily life.
- Provide information on the who, what, where, why, and how of your story.
- Since journalists are very busy, they often print what they receive with no changes. Be sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct. They are more inclined to print something they don’t have to edit.
- Ask someone not involved in planning the lecture event (member, friend, or Publicity Consultant) to read your draft and tell you how clearly it speaks to them before sending it to the paper.
- Use direct quotes from your lecturer in your press release to give it immediacy and a journalistic tone. Quotes are also useful as bullet points in your paid advertising.
- Keep your press release about news. Any opinions need to be backed up by a quotation or a direct source (e.g., an article in Newsweek or an author). Remember, this is not a letter to an editor.
- Stay away from language and punctuation that gets personal. This includes exclamation marks as well as phrases that don’t keep with an objective tone. Sales pitches like “Please come! You wouldn’t want to miss this!” don’t belong in a press release. By using good quotations your lecturer has supplied and simple language that covers the ground of your topic, you’ll be telling members of the public they shouldn’t miss it—without having to say it.
- Keep your press release brief (one page or less). Stick to the facts.
- Consider utilizing newsworthy biographical points about your lecturer. Many lecturers have gone down other paths before finding their way to prayer-based healing. Look for ideas you can feature in a short “bio blurb” in your press release, ads, and fliers.
- Did your lecturer have a particular crisis or turning point in his or her life that eventually led to spiritual seeking? This is just the time many turn to spiritual ideas—at a time of suffering and loss.
Be sure to send your press release to your lecturer for review before it goes to any newspapers.
“What do we say when we submit the press release?”
Briefly let the newspaper know why the lecturer is coming to town and how the message relates to a concern or activity of the community.
Submit your press release along with a flier for the event. Tell them it’s their personal invitation and that you hope to see them there. Give them additional copies to make available to their staff. Encourage them to call the lecturer before the event so they can write an expanded story (something printed over the byline of a regular writer for the paper speaks volumes to the public). Invite them to come to the event so they can meet the lecturer in person, talk with others who are there, and write a follow-up story.
Whether you get newspaper coverage prior to the lecture or not, ask if you can provide a post-press release about your lecture after the event if a journalist is not going to attend. There is a template post-press release available on this website on our Downloadable materials page.