Angelia McGowan | WriterUse press releases more, especially if you’re a non-profit by Angelia D. McGowan, Expert in Media Writing

You’ve got news. Really you do.

If you’re a member of the non-profit community you have invaluable news to share with your members and perspective clients.

The simplest way to know if you’ve got headline news is to determine if your latest information is an “only” or “first.” Is it an annual fundraiser or anniversary-type event, five years or more? Are you reaching a unique audience in a unique way?

If so, you should not shortchange them by downplaying how important your news is to them. That’s where a bit of promotion comes into play.

A well-crafted press release, distributed to and through the right news outlet or social media at the right time can help the public understand how your organizations fits into the community and their lives.

I’ve worked in the communications field for nearly 20 years as a journalist and public relations professional. During that time I’ve found that many non-profits don’t recognize the power of a press release. If they can’t track its direct impact to ticket sales, memberships or donations, they dismiss its importance and lose a huge opportunity to build relationships with the news media and membership.

A press release can be:
1) A basis for a feature news story on your organization.
2) Repurposed for your member and staff newsletters.
3) Rewritten as talking points for your executive director’s speaking engagements.
4) Part of your posts on social media.
5) Archived for historical purposes.

History knows the importance of this oh-so-important document.

For more than a century, a press release has been the official document public relations professionals use to communicate with journalists. Also known as a media release or news release, the document doesn’t cancel the importance of face-to-face meetings with editorial boards, reporters and writers.

It is a tool that allows organizations to take an active role in creating and distributing their news to the public.

The role of a well-written press release has not changed. The distribution method is another story. In the not-too-distant past, the public relations department recruited fellow employees to participate in assembly lines, stuffing folders with news releases and the supporting materials, such as CEO bios, product information, samples and photos.

Other employees had the privilege of affixing the mailing labels to press packet envelopes or racing them to the post office to be mailed by a certain deadline.

The role of the fax machine provided an alternative to the labor-intensive assignment. One person could stand at a fax machine to send and verify the press release was received by a host of media. All of the branding and imagery of a press packet were absent, but the company‘s announcement made it through to journalists in a timely manner.

The post-dotcom era, where companies maintain an online presence, sees professionals seated in front of their computer distributing a press release to journalist via email. Today, in the midst of a social media world, the distribution method of press releases has taken on yet another form.

PR professionals are charged with writing a 120-character teaser on Twitter leading to the full press release. No matter the distribution method, a well-written press release can go a long way in helping organizations take an active role in creating and distributing their news to the public.

You have news. That hasn’t changed.

Contact Angelia McGowan at Canady’s Corner at