News Release Guide
Public Affairs and Publications, along with a few other offices around campus, sends out news releases. Public Affairs and Publications staff announce news about many campus activities, events, and achievements, and we welcome the contributions of other campus departments to disseminate information. Having accurate, well-written information and a consistent format enhance the University's image and ensure that releases are noticed.
If you need to distribute information to the media frequently, contact Public Affairs and Publications to discuss how we can assist.
Use the following criteria when composing news releases:
Credibility: Write accurately, objectively, clearly, and concisely to create credible news releases. Present the subject of the news release so that the reader feels the subject is important, correct, and sufficiently described.
Brevity: News releases should only be as long as is necessary to impart vital, accurate information—who, what, when, and where—and background information that explains why the release was produced.
The writer should always remember that the reader may not be familiar with the release's subject. If there is any doubt about readers understanding programs, policies, or other aspects of a release, explain them.
Correctness: Spell-check and proofread every news release. Also, check for accuracy. Public Affairs uses the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual as its guide for usage, spelling, punctuation, and other writing needs. AP style is the style of choice for most media outlets, and is taught in CSU, Chico's journalism department.
Campus offices putting out news releases are strongly encouraged, but not required, to use AP style. For style for other publications, use the CSU, Chico Writing Style Guide.
Objectivity: Refrain from hyperbole or speculation. Attribute perspectives or opinions about a news release to someone, unless there is consensus about it. For instance, everyone agrees that Bidwell Park is pretty, so you can write, "The economics club plans to hold its fund-raiser in scenic Bidwell Park." By contrast, not everyone may agree that CSU, Chico's economics club is the best in California. If the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences dean thinks so, you can state it via attribution, such as, "I'm pleased the economics club is having another fund-raiser," said Dean Ann Smith. "These students have formed the best economics club in the state."
To send out clear, timely, and effective news releases from your program, use the following guidelines:
Double-check with Public Affairs and Publications about whether you should send a release. In particular, Public Affairs and Publications must cover news of important campus activities, events, and achievements.
Use customized news release stationery. Review adaptations or plans for news release stationery with Public Affairs and Publications.
Check with Public Affairs and Publications to make sure you send news releases to all relevant media.
Include the following elements in all news releases: date of release, name of contact person who will respond to media inquiries, and headline above body of news release.
If the release is about an upcoming event, include information about accessibility and a statement of accommodation, e.g., "If you require an accommodation to participate in this event or have questions about accessibility, please contact [event sponsor]."
Unless otherwise arranged, send all news releases for proofing or editing to Joe Wills, director of Public Affairs and Publications (phone x4143, fax x4264, zip 040).
Copyediting marks are explained here to help you correct your copy after the editing process.