For Immediate Release: DIY Press ReleasesNov 02, 2022
Written by Melvin Tunstall III
Extra! Extra! Hey look at the headlines!
Historical news is being made!
Extra! Extra! They’re drawing a red line
Around the biggest scoop of the decade!
-Dainty June and Her Newsboys, Gypsy
It hit me as I typed these lyrics, singing Stephen Sondheim’s words alongside 5 other tweens in North Carolina was my first taste of being in a true Broadway musical comedy. After testing the waters with the local Children’s Theater, my voice teacher convinced me to audition for Gypsy, which she was slated to star as Momma Rose. Ah, memories…
Gone are the days of newsboys proclaiming the must-read events of the day on street corners- but don’t worry, they are still thriving onstage in Newsies productions across the globe. So what is a theatermaker to do when they need to start spreadin’ the news beyond the street corner?
One can always get a Press Agent and use their media contacts to get the word out, but let’s face it, acquiring a top PR Agent is easier said than done. For the theatermaker hoping to make headlines, here’s another option:
DO IT YOURSELF!
Crafting your own press release is not as intimidating as it sounds. With a few tricks from the pros, you’ll be making headlines in no time.
First, a quick overview on press releases…
A press release is a news blurb, usually 400 words or less, relaying news on a single, specific event. It is either distributed using an online press release distribution service or emailed directly to editors and journalists. Press releases come with their own set of formatting rules, language, and audience, so once you familiarize yourself with the basics, you can let your creativity run wild!
Just remember: a press release is news. That means it is not advertising or a sales piece. While your objective may be to increase sales or awareness of your show through the press release, it is not a blatant advertising piece. Stick with FACTS- not fluff.
Have an event in mind? Let’s get started!
1. MAKE SURE IT’S NEWSWORTHY
Have we mentioned that “fluff” is a big no-no? Always start with the question “Would this be a headline on the front page of the news or is it more of an article or sales piece?” If it’s the latter, save it for your social pages. Here is a quick checklist of newsworthy theatermaking topics:
- Opening Night/Grand Openings
- Launch of a new website
- Addition of major star or contract
- Submission announcements
- Award received
- Coverage in major media source
2. WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW
Answering these questions in detail will give you the meat of your release, and most importantly, your first paragraph. A sad but true fact is most people won’t read past the first paragraph, so you want all the pertinent information to be there as soon as possible.
- Who does it involve?
- What is the event/announcement?
- When and where does/did it occur?
- How is it happening?
3. QUOTATIONS AND KEYWORDS
Who doesn’t love a good “pull quote?” Remember, journalists may end up using the quote in their story word for word so make sure it includes the main message of your release. It should also read like a real person, and ideally sound like something the person you are quoting would say. Don’t use technical language or buzz words. If quoting someone within your show family, make sure it is someone who knows adept and ready to answer any media requests if the story starts to get some pick up.
Likewise, using keywords increases what PR whizzes call Search Engine Optimization. SEO refers to the natural process of boosting your ranking in search engines like Google and Yahoo!. You want to use phrases people are likely to search if they’re looking for your product.
Rather than pay for the top spot in the search results, you’re getting there the “fair” way, which tells searchers that your site is popular or you have a lot going on to garner such a good position.
- Make a list of keywords or phrases that relate to your business. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself how you would describe the business.
- Test out the keywords by searching for them in Google to see what results come up. If the results show listings you want to be among, they’re good keywords.
Use the keywords throughout the release!
4. FILL IN THE BLANKS
Did you know smartsheet.com has several FREE templates to help you craft your perfect press release? Just insert your information in the template provided for quick and professional-looking releases. Remember, most are around 400 words or less, so be sure to use the info generated from section #2. You’ll have 1-2 additional paragraphs, then it’s customary to have an “About the Company” section that overviews what your company does. Following this is the contact information. Always put a contact that is the most relevant to the release- which might not be you. If you don’t want a lot of phone calls or emails with questions you can’t answer, write the appropriate person for inquiries.
Now that you are a PR Pro, it’s time to put that press release out there! First, go to your list of media contacts and…what? You don’t have a list of media contacts? Don’t fret, theatermaker, it takes years to build those contacts so don’t feel left behind if you don’t have a direct line to Playbill!
The TheaterMakers Studio has partnered with PRWeb to help promote your creative work. With a couple of clicks, deliver your news to targeted media websites, industry publications, blogs, social networks and search engines.
Members of TMS receive a 10% discount on services. This 10% discount applies to any Basic, Standard, Advanced, or Premium press release distribution through PR Web. To enjoy this promotion, new users should go to this PRWeb site to register, then login at app.prweb.com, and enter the relevant Promo Code for your first 5 press release.
If you are an existing PRWeb customer, you can log in as usual at https://app.prweb.com/Login.aspx and then use the same promo codes.
Want to try your press release out on a target audience? Then join our FREE TheaterMakers Facebook Group today and open up a treasure trove of ideas, resources, and so much more that will help you start making headlines!