Radio, Television, and the web

Radio News Releases:

The following are some guidelines from the Broadcast News Network on how to write a radio news release:

  • Time is money in radio. Stories should be no longer than 60 seconds. Stories without actualities (soundbites) should be 30 seconds or less.
  • The only way to time your story is to read it out loud, slowly.
  • A long or overly commercial story is death. Rather than editing it, a radio news-person will discard it.
  • Convey your message with the smallest possible number of words and facts.
  • A radio news release is not an advertisement; it is not a sales promotion piece. A radio news release is journalism-spoken.
  • Announcers punctuate with their stories; not all sentences need verbs or subjects.
  • Releases should be conversational. Use simple words and avoid legal-speak.
  • After writing a radio news release, try to shorten every sentence.
  • Listeners have short attention span. Have something to say and say it right away.
  • Never start a story with a name or a vital piece of information. While listeners are trying to figure out the person speaking and the subject matter, they don’t pay attention to the specific information.

A few other tips from my Public Relations textbook:

  • Topicality: Stories may fail every other judgment criteria and still get airtime simply because they offer information on a hot topic. Newsroom maxim: News is about issues that matter to the majority of our listeners or viewers.
  • Timeliness: Stories should be timed to correspond with annual seasons, governmental rulings, new laws, social trends, and so on.
  • Localization: Newsrooms emphasize local news. A national release should be relevant to a local audience. Reporters are always looking for the “local angle.”
  • Humanization: Show how real people are involved or affected. Impressive statistics mean nothing to audiences without a human angle.
  • Visual Appeal: Successful stories provide vibrant, compelling soundbites that subtly promote, but also illustrate and explain.