ALA News Guidelines
Deadline for Submitting Press Releases
All press releases are submitted to PIO for review and then sent back to the user for final review before PIO publishes. Details of the workflow process are provided below.
In order to be included in ALA News (Tuesday afternoon) and AL Direct (Wednesday afternoon) press releases must be submitted before noon on Monday. Press releases submitted after noon on Monday will be published on the ALA website on Wednesday afternoon at the earliest. Exceptions will be made for late-breaking news. Please contact Steve Zalusky firstname.lastname@example.org and George Eberhart email@example.com if an exception to the deadline is required.
ALA News is sent to a list of approximately 800 subscribers each Tuesday afternoon. The newsbatch includes press releases from ALA and its divisions.
Some weeks, if there is a large volume of press releases, there will be a second ALA News batch released on Thursday at 2 p.m. In this event, an e-mail announcement would be made on Tuesday following the first batch, with the deadline for corrections on Wednesday.
Press releases are entered into the Web content management system (http://ala.org/news) by the author, reviewed by PIO and returned to the author for further review and final approval prior to publishing. For more information on entering press releases in Drupal visit the ALA Staff Support website.
Tips on Writing for the Press
- Use concise language that speaks to the average person, using terms everyone can understand. One book that spells out how to do this is Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.”
- Avoid jargon. What may make sense to a specialized audience may mystify, confuse and ultimately cause the reader to stop reading.
- When writing a press release that will attract the attention of journalists, it is important to stress angles in the opening graph or two that will make the reporter or editor feel this is a story worth pursuing. And, once again, that will mean addressing reporters and editors in everyday language that will appeal to readers.
- Use the inverted pyramid, starting with the most important items and following them with items of diminishing importance.
- Determining where information stands on the inverted pyramid can be done by looking at the basic elements of the news story: who, what, where, why, when and how. Which of these elements is more important will determine their ranking.
- If technical terms are used, they must be defined.
- Keep paragraphs short (2-3 sentences). Sentences should also be short. Put the longer version (with full bios of award winners, for example) on your website/blog and link to it. The longer the release, the less likely it is that is it will be read.
Headlines should be short and provide a basic roadmap to the story, without necessarily telling the whole story. Examples: “Apply to host Harry Potter’s World”; “ALTAFF to host Quiz-Show Fundraiser.”
The number of characters permitted will be limited to 120 to leave room for the shortened URL in tweet. Press releases are automatically posted to American Libraries Twitter account and we hope to implement automatic tweeting for the ALA News twitter account in the near future. Currently, anything longer than 120 characters is simply truncated, which is not optimum.
Best Practice: Shorter URL = more retweets.
A shorter URL (107 characters) leaves room for people to retweet the press release without having to rewrite the message.
Tweet =140 characters;
Space for URL: http://www.ala.org/news/pr?id=10398 (19);
Space for retweet: RT @amlibraries (15) or RT @alanews (11).
AP style uses sentence case. Capitalization of headlines should be lowercase unless the word begins the sentence or is a proper name, official title or publication title.
If your announcement concerns news about one or two individuals, the recipients of an awards or a staff change, for instance, please include the name(s) in the title of the press release.
Tip: For an example of how to make your text and headlines more concise, compare how your news appeared in a past issue of AL Direct with the original press release.
Insert links within the body of the text and label them appropriately.
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Screen reader users often navigate from link to link, skipping the text in between, so links should make sense out of context. Phrases such as "click here," "more" and "website" are almost completely meaningless when read out of context.
When possible include images.
Images are for reuse by your intended audience. Most images for the Web are low resolution (72px per inch). If the audience for your press release includes print publications, a higher resolution (300px per inch) may be necessary. A higher resolution photo may also be more useful to bloggers and online publication, because it can be resized to fit their specifications without data loss which blurs an image.
Use Alternate text, Description and Title fields!
Provide a good text description. Name and location of event, names and titles of those pictured (left to right).
Please note: Units are responsible for getting permission to use an image from partners, libraries, event attendees and others present in images.
Releases should be written in Associated Press style (http://facultystaff.unlv.edu/editorialGuide.html). Associated Press style, simply put, refers to guidelines followed by newspapers and magazines in the United States. The guidelines can be found in The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, otherwise known as the AP Stylebook.
In newspaper stories, you might notice that a comma seems to be missing in sentences like, “The three main candidates are Obama, Clinton and Edwards.” That is because, according to the stylebook, one should not “put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.”
Time date and place: When reminding readers about when to show up, use the following order: time, date, place. “The lecture is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at David Kinley Hall.”
CORRECT: The train arrives at 3 p.m. Jan. 3 at Union Station
INCORRECT: The train arrives at Union Station on Jan. 3 at 3 p.m.
CORRECT: It’s 7 p.m.
INCORRECT: It’s 7:00 p.m.
When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.
When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.
EXAMPLES: January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.
The names of states don’t appear the way you would see them on an envelope. Here are the 50 states, according to the Associated Press: Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Ky., La., Md., Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N. C., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.D., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W. Va., Wis., Wyo.
In referring to cities, many of them don’t need their states mentioned along with them. Cities that stand alone are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C..
When encountering formal titles (Chairman, President, etc.), capitalize them immediately before a name but lowercase them when used alone or when they are set off by commas: Village President Irvana Wilks, but Irvana Wilks, president of the village.
As for titles of books, films and plays, the AP rules are as follows. Capitalize principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters; articles (a, an, the); or words of fewer than four letters if the article is the first or last word in a title. Titles should be bracketed by quotation marks (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Of Human Bondage” and “The Sun Also Rises”). Exceptions include the Bible and such reference books as almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Use website, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.
Use email, but use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce.
Use percent (not %) The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there.
As a general rule, spell out numbers from one through nine. Use Arabic figures for 10 and above.
Example: first day, one woman, 10 days,21st year, nine years, 50 more.
ALA Specific Syntax
We use audiobook instead of audio book.
The Library has a copy of the The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, PN4783 .A83 2000 (non-circulating).
Jan Carmichael firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Zalusky email@example.com