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Don’t Send this News Release

Following is a sample of a release that should not be sent.

Click here to see a sample of a well-written news release

9/8/99
For more information call: Jo Brown, Director 212/555-4567
Mary Smith, Publicist 212/555-1234
Press release
The Bobstown Library System (BLS), one of the most important state-wide membership organizations—were happy to say that they are looking forward to the upcoming 2004 election—when Bobstown resident voters will be able to cast their votes for their state’s schools and libraries.

At this point in time, the BLS thinks that most people would be in favor of having libraries stocked with books at all times—and even with computers for special projects. They also feel that people would strongly support the new Library Technology Referendum in the voting booth, a local program that will help to hook up a majority of libraries and schools for not too much. As a matter of fact, Bobstown was able to make many computer upgrades for just $50,000 last year. This was across the entire system. Some of the money was used for Internet access, new software and network cabling. They hope to make even more improvements if the referendum passes.

It all depends on voters. If they are supportive of such programs as this one for libraries, which according to a recent poll 89% do support, then maybe libraries will be able to survive this turbulent economic time.

What’s wrong with this release? In a word, everything!

The first sentence offers an opinion (it’s one of the most important statewide membership organizations) but doesn’t offer evidence. It also doesn’t clarify who are members and the purpose of the organization.

In the second paragraph, another opinion, without facts or evidence, is offered. This would be easy to clarify through the use of a poll of library users.

In paragraph three, yet another opinion with no facts or evidence to back it up is offered. Additionally, there are no specifics about the dollar amounts that the referendum will support.

In paragraph four, a dollar amount is offered. However, with the few clarifications that are given, $50,000 sounds like a lot of money for computer upgrades. A good release would tell who is benefiting from the upgrades, and actually have a quote or a story from a user to back up the value of the upgrades and the cost. The additional improvements need to be clarified, and it should also be explained why additional improvements are needed.

The last paragraph is a complete disaster. What depends on voters? What exactly is the program they’re talking about? Who conducted the poll and who was polled and what was the poll about? Also, why are “turbulent economic times” suddenly introduced into the article? Is the library having financial issues? Funding problems? If this is going to be discussed in the article, it should be mentioned early on, and with more clarification.

The library director, a library board member, and library patrons should all be quoted in the article. Quotes are a great way to hit your point home!

Click here to see a sample of a well-written news release

Excerpted from the American Library Association’s A Communications Handbook for Libraries, published in Summer of 2004. To see A Communications Handbook for Libraries in full, please visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/availablepiomat/online_comm_handbook.pdf.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov