In these days of posts, likes and tweets, it’s easy to overlook some of the old fundamentals of PR – such as the humble news release.
I was prompted to write this, er, post, after a new LinkedIn contact asked me for pointers on drafting a news release for a national newspaper.
It was the late Frank Jefkins, Rentokil’s former PR chief, who invented the SOLAADS outline for the model news release – subject, organisation, location, advantages, application, detail and source.
Since I could never quite recall this I decided a few years back to coin my own mnemonic. My eight-point outline echoed my frustrated yell as I wrote releases, and possibly that of some recipients: WWWWAAAA!
This mixes some of Frank’s trusted formula with the open-ended questions that journalists are trained to ask. So what does it stand for? Let’s use the ‘announcement’ of the mnemonic itself to illustrate:
1 WHAT is the story? ‘Time-saving news release formula announced,’ or similar.
2 WHO is the story about? It’s announced by yours truly and aimed at busy PR practitioners or anyone who wants to write their own release.
3 WHERE is the location? This could include the venue of the announcement, the company’s base or the market’s geography, or possibly all three.
4 WHEN did it happen? This is the timing of the announcement or ‘happening.’
5 ADVANTAGES? The release model helps save time and makes sure the story includes all the essential points.
6 APPLICATION? The model can be used day-to-day by practitioners, or included in media relations courses and induction packs.
7 ADDITIONAL INFO? Add more details here, such as the downloadable WWWWAAAA! template or the iPad app (neither of which exists!) Tell readers where to get more info on the aide memoire and the company behind it.
8 ASK? Immediately after the release, add the details of the contact that journalists should approach for more info.
Oh, and: Ends.