Formatting advertising media press release, here are fundamentals to follow

Each and every day, you follow certain formatting criteria. Whether you're jotting down a note to a family member, or sending an email to your boss, you probably follow some general method of placing and styling your words.

Each and every day, you follow certain formatting criteria. Whether you're jotting down a note to a family member, or sending an email to your boss, you probably follow some general method of placing and styling your words.

Most media departments require their reporters and freelancers to follow particular guidelines for submissions before they will even consider reviewing your work. In ,,infect, most are so eager to ensure that everything stays within their procedures, that they will send you a copy of their guidelines, or a stylebook, for free!

Additionally, most media will send you a sample of their publication for a nominal fee, along with the guidelines. If you look in any Writers Market, which includes submission rules for almost every print media in existence, you'll find that most strongly suggest that you send off for their guidelines, and review a current copy of the publication, before you put your ideas in the mail.

The same holds true for any press release. Even though it is a news item, presumably void of any boasting or advertising mechanisms, each publication will have its own style and tone of writing the news.

A stylebook will answer any questions you have as to the publications preferred way of writing. It will tell you if the editor wants the number twelve written in word form, or numbers (12). It will inform you as to whether or not possible compound words are to be combined, or hyphenated.

A stylebook also addresses specific word choice questions that will tell you if the targeted media fancies the word Vietnam or the words Viet Nam. It tackles issues such as capitalization, title specifics, time, dates, and names.

Even if a publication doesn't have any required formatting guidelines, be sure to adhere to some type of professional style, so that your submission will project a more qualified appearance.

Here are some indispensable rules of conformity that will ensure you have the basics down before you launch your press release campaign into existence:

1) Disclosing the Deliveries
Whether its an article or a press release, the media want to be the first to receive and dispense of the news. One very important aspect in delivering your release is to state on the cover whether or not you have simultaneously submitted your information.

No publication wants to print the same item that another one is printing at the same time, or worse, before them. The idea behind the media is to be the first, and be the best. Depending on whom you talk to, you'll find that normally, its perfectly fine to send in your item to more than one publication, as long as you disclose it. That way, you're giving ample notice to the recipients that they might want to find out if another source has published it first.

The news industry is highly competitive, and as such, you have a responsibility to adhere to their courtesies as well as their formatting principals. Some may insist on being the sole addressee for your item. If so, weigh the options you have, and decide if its best to stick to a sole source, or submit it to more than one publication. Whatever you do, do not lie to them and sneak off additional copies to their competitors. If word gets back to the original source, you can count yourself (and the company for which you're writing), out of any future publishing credentials with that particular media.

If you find that your news item is one that should be submitted to only one source at a time, then prepare a list, in order of importance, of whom you wish to have first dibs on your publishing rights. Once you hear back from each source, feel free to submit it to the next in line.

Sometimes, this may not be practical, if the information is of a timely nature. Always include a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) to each publication, so that you'll get a response. Not all editors will waste their own materials in getting back to you.

Additionally, some media will be very receptive to the idea of your submitting the story to two different forms of media outlets. Most print publications will be content if you send one copy to the local state paper, and another to the top radio station in your area.

2) Perfect Your Timing
When delivering a press release to the media, its very important to ensure your timing is perfect. Not only when the paper or other form of media might have the best use for it, but also what works for your news.

If the company that's hired you is launching a new website or product on July 31st, don't wait until that day to send in your press release. Send it in early enough so that the editor has plenty of time to decide if he wants to use the story on the day of, or the day before, the debut. The editor may need time to verify your facts and sources, or simply rewrite certain parts of your press release to conform to their own style and format.

Since you never know what the editor will decide, avoid using terms like today, or tomorrow, in your submission. Instead, use specific dates, such as March 3. If you're not sure what the typical lead time is, in other words, how far in advance the editor prefers to have the story in his hands, make a quick call and find out. Most staff members are very familiar with the deadlines and turnaround time the paper needs to develop its stories.

3) Give Me My Space, Please!
Scientists say that humans need at least three feet of personal space to be at a maximum comfort level. Well, press releases need space, too! It may seem excessive when printed out on paper, but an editor will greatly appreciate it if you format your page so that it allows for double, if not, triple spacing.

When as editor receives your story, reviews it, and decides that he wants to look into it further, he needs to have space on your printed copy to make notes, changes, and additions to your work. Your paperwork will probably be moving between personnel, so its a great idea to give them room to work!

Paper quality should be considered as well. Use a standard white 8 - by 11-inch high quality bond paper. Type your submission in 12-point font, in a style that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman. Print your press release on a desk-jet or laser quality printer for the best appearance.

Position your story a third of the way down the page, after presenting your contact information, headings, and specific dates. Once you begin your main content, make sure you left-justify your work so that the editor has room in the right margin to make further notations, if necessary.

Always maintain at least a one-inch margin on every edge of the paper. If your press release has more than one page, be sure to write continued, or more, at the bottom of each previous page.

If you do wind up with more than one page, be sure to identify your work on each additional page by writing your last name, and the title of the story in the upper left-hand corner. If you want to, you can also number the pages, beginning on page two of your submission.

When you have more than one page, use more than one page to print on! Never send your work printed on both sides of the paper. And remember, as netiquette rules suggest, never type in all capital letters. Its considered shouting, and for print work, it makes it difficult to read. Stick to the elementary formatting, and you'll keep the editors eyes happy.

4) Crossing Your is and Dotting Your is
Some things to double-check before you submit your work for publication:

  1. Did I use the right tense and keep it uniform throughout the press release? Try to keep your press release in the Active voice. Instead of using the Passive voice, saying: A meeting will be held on Monday night, try using The organization will meet on Monday night.
  2. Are my abbreviations, if used, correct? Many organizations use acronyms, so the media have devised a way to employ the practice in their reporting. The general rule is to completely spell out the name on the initial reference, such as: Federal Bureau of Investigation, followed by the acronym FBI in any following mentions of the organization throughout the story.
  3. Have I capitalized Proper nouns and brand names? Always avoid capitalizing any words that do not require it. Use capitals for proper nouns, names, and specific popular areas that the community will generally understand as being a certain region.
  4. Are any numbers, lower than 10 spelled out in word form? One rule of thumb for numerical references is that very small and very large numbers are never written in figure format. Instead of writing 1 you would write one. And you would refer to fifteen thousand in word form, not as 15,000.
  5. Have I excluded the use of any time specific words, such as today or tomorrow? If you accidentally include the use of one of these types of words, it will usually be eliminated from the content. The only time it is appropriate to use these is when a media sector is speaking of something that has already happened. Normally, this occurs in an afternoon paper, which reports on the happenings that took place earlier in the day.
  6. Are my courtesy titles for each person mentioned in my press release correct? For example, am I correct in assuming it is Mrs. instead of Ms? Most media do not even use courtesy titles at this date, preferring instead to simply refer to the person as Jane Doe, initially, and Doe from that point on in the story. But, depending on your target medias guidelines, you'll need to make sure that if you did use courtesy titles, that you've used them properly.
  7. Have I omitted any use of sexist language, such as policeman or fireman, and instead, made them gender-neutral? Traditionally, certain jobs were gender-specific, such as those on the police force or fire fighting staff. Now, a fire-fighter can be male or female, so the title has evolved to reflect the new change.
  8. Have I succeeded in not using any words of fluff that would make my work appear to be biased to the public, such as best, or wonderful? One of the biggest mistakes public relations departments make when submitting a press release, in hopes of getting news coverage, is in turning their news into an advertisement. Look at your press release from the public viewpoint, and see if you think they might misconstrue any information you've added to look unbiased in their eyes.
  9. Is my work addressed to the correct personnel, and furthermore, is my own contact information correct? One critical mistake some inexperienced writers make is addressing their work to the wrong personnel. Worse, some even send it to a staff member who hasn't worked for the publication in years! An editor can only assume your work is sloppy if you fail to make a quick phone call to verify your contact information.
  10. Have I used my spell-checker, and then reviewed the document with my own eyes for proper word usage? Be sure to watch out for words that the computerized spell-checker might not catch. If you wish to say, For the next two years, make sure it doesn't read Four the next two years. Have another person read your press release before sending it in, to catch any errors that you might fail to spot.

5) Wrap It Up!
Formatting doesn't end with font styles and page settings. Sending in your submission has a rule of its own, and everyone should follow the basic procedure courtesies.

If your press release is more than one page in length, never ever staple your pages together. Either number your pages with proper identification (in case any page gets separated from the others), or use a paper clip to fasten them to one another. A staple is only going to make the editor either rip the pages apart, or go through the hassle of trying to find a staple remover on his already-cluttered desk of unsolicited submissions.

There is no need to send your work in any fancy method. Unless its a time-sensitive piece, don't use overnight carriers that will require personnel-specific signatures. Simply use standard sized packaging, and refrain from writing messages on the outside of the envelope it either wont be read, or it will make an unprofessional impression.

Proper formatting is the easiest way to gain the trust of an editor. If everything looks good from first glance, then he or she is going to march forward in giving your document a careful consideration on whether or not they wish to include your work in an upcoming issue.