Press release vs. statement

18th October 2012

Charities/non-governmental organizations often advocate their causes with passion, and rightly so. When it comes to press releases, though, this passion needs to be channeled into providing solid facts and punchy quotes rather than opinions without attribution.

In a press release every statement needs to be backed up by a source – a report, a quote, obtainable statistics. One cannot state, for instance, “Mining operations have decimated the livelihoods of the local community and destroyed vast tracts of wildlife habitat” unless one is quoting someone or reporting on research. For the latter, one would then probably need to phrase it, “The report documents how mining operations have negatively affected the local community and wildlife habitats.”

Clearly an organization can simply publish a statement commenting on a recent event or issue, which journalists can quote from. In this case, the release should clearly state who or what is making the official comment, e.g. Charity X’s Executive Director stated today that…. The Chair of Charity X’s Board of Directors has issued a statement on behalf of the organization…. Charity X issues the following statement on …. . Who can make an official statement depends on the organization’s governance policies.

Of course, the standard guidance for press releases always apply:

– State your main point and cover who/what/when/where/why within the first two paragraphs of your release. Journalists or editors might not read any farther, or may only include one or two of these paragraphs in their story.

– Write as much as possible like a published article. Look at the articles in the newspapers or online news sources that you are targeting and try to mirror their style. The easier you make it for the journalist or editor, the more likely it will be printed.

– Keep your headlines to under 70 characters (the Google News limit).

– Include background information to help editors understand the issue and provide additional facts. They may feel they need to explain elements further for their audience, but if they have to research it, they may just decide not to publish.


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