Archive for the ‘Publicizing Your Team’ Category

PUBLICIZING YOUR TEAM: Writing About Youth Sports in Letters to the Editor – Part II

 Writing About Youth Sports in Newspaper Letters-to-the-Editor (Part II)

Last week, Part I encouraged parents, coaches, and even youth leaguers themselves to write about youth sports in letters-to-the-editor to local, regional and national newspapers.  The article began sketching a roadmap to the editorial pages with five initial steps.  Part II now discusses how to polish and submit the letter, and it ends with a sample.

6.  Focus thinking.  Because newspapers generally restrict letters to a maximum of only about 200 words, the New York Times advises writers to “[m]ake one argument thoroughly, point by point; the more detail the better. . . . If you try to do too much, you can wind up . . . saying nothing.”

7.  Take a position. Letters appear on the opinion pages, so editors tend to favor statements of opinion rather than free-form essays. The Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, wants “vigorous, clear argumentation within the confines of the short essay – the voices of well-informed, opinionated citizens speaking to others in the widest possible forum.”

8.  Reason and passion. Letters-to-the-editor should speak forthrightly and with dignity.  Dignified writing does not mean toothless writing, but most newspapers reject letters laden with innuendo, insults, sarcasm, or defamation. “It’s fair to criticize the ideas or arguments of others,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch instructs, “but we don’t allow name-calling.”  Letters that spew venom and bile usually get a quick “delete” because busy editorial staffs do not have the time or inclination to phone writers and negotiate about civility.

Youth sports often engages passions, and letter writers sometimes react in the heat of the moment. A brief “cooling-off period” may allow reason to temper passion. If you sense that your draft letter skates near the edge, ask a spouse, friend or colleague to review it for tone and content. Even if the letter seems finished late in the day, sleep on it overnight before hitting the “Send” key. Anything the newspaper’s editorial staff can do with the letter late in the afternoon, it can do first thing the next morning.

9.  Public interest.  Letters reach hundreds or thousands of readers, and editors have a feel for what will strike a chord with their mass audience.  A submitted letter does not stand much chance of publication, for example, if it merely tries to score points about a private spat between a parent and a coach.

 10.  Good writing and brevity. The Chicago Tribune advises that letters that are “succinct rather than rambling, and that are factually accurate, stand the best chance of being selected for publication.” Papers normally reserve the right to edit for length, accuracy or clarity, but editors may recoil from doing a major rewrite. Rejection is easier.

“The writing must be clear and accessible to the general reader,” says the Wall Street Journal. Proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and syntax are essential.

Brevity is best. The Boston Globe, for example, advises that “[t]he best way to increase the chance of having your letter chosen is to make it timely, original, and short!” “Be ready to be edited,” warns the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Our first concern is to preserve the essential voice, style, and viewpoint of each author, but . . . [s]pace wins every time.”

Even if a newspaper imposes a 200-word maximum limit on letters, writers who weigh in at, say, 150 words improve their chances of publication. Brevity also helps engage the paper’s readers, who might scan the editorial pages while they are on the go, unable to devote undivided attention for very long. The prime goal of any writer is to finish before the reader finishes.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch founder Joseph Pulitzer stated four ground rules for newspaper writing: “Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”

11. Cutting for brevity.  The newspaper’s maximum word limit requires self-discipline. Even for writers thrilled by the sound of their keyboards and the sight of their words, cutting usually improves initial drafts. This 23-word sentence, for example, might open a draft letter about youth sports: “It is with great disappointment that I read about the decision of the city council to reduce the budget of the parks department.” Cutting this bloated sentence in half is easy:

Delete “throat-clearing.” Nobody cares about the writer’s great disappointment, and everybody knows that the writer read about the budget cutting. Get to the point: “The decision of the city council to reduce the budget of the parks department is wrong.” The sentence now consists of 16 words, but why stop here?

Use possessives: “The city council’s decision to reduce the parks department’s budget is wrong.” Twelve words and still counting down.

Keep cutting: “The city council is wrong to reduce the parks department’s budget.” Final sentence: 11 words, less than half the original length. The writer now has 12 more words to bolster the argument later in the letter.  The result is clearer and more readable, and writer and reader both win.

12. The supporting materials. A submitted letter begins “Dear Editor” and requires no other cover letter. The writer’s introductory paragraph, however, should crisply summarize the earlier article or event that prompts the letter. Readers may not immediately recall it, but lengthy summaries unnecessarily consume the newspaper’s tight word limit.

Most newspapers require the letter writer’s name as it should appear in the paper, plus the writer’s mailing address, email address, and phone numbers. This identifying information enables the editorial staff to call and verify the writer’s authorship, and perhaps also to seek needed clarifications. Newspapers usually do not publish the writer’s identifying information, except for the hometown.

Below the writer’s name and contact information, the submission should include a one-sentence statement of the writer’s credentials, if they are relevant to the letter’s subject (for example, “Sam Smith is president of the X Youth Soccer League.”) Even if the paper does not publish the statement beneath the letter, the statement may lend an aura of expertise that impresses the editorial staff who screen submissions. For a distant newspaper, recite a connection to the newspaper’s market area if possible.

13. Persistence pays.  Newspapers reject plenty of publishable letters for reasons unrelated to quality or content.  The paper, for example, may recently have run letters on the writer’s topic and may now seek commentary on other issues. The paper simply may not have room for today’s letter.

If the letter concerns incidents likely to happen again (such as acts of parental violence or acts of sportsmanship), save the letter for resubmission next time, when space limits and other circumstances might be different. Newspaper letter writing may require patience and perseverance following initial rejection. As a successful writer named William Shakespeare said, “all’s well that ends well.”

Joining the Discussion About Youth Sports

“[G]ood letters to the editor,” says CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer, “are indeed widely read by public-opinion molders, and they’re very significant.”  One blogger acknowledges that “[a] published letter to the editor probably has 1,000 times the readership and impact of a comment on a blog.”  Journalists regularly report that “[l]etters are one of the most popular, widely read parts of the newspaper because people like to know what their neighbors are thinking.”

Letter writers continue to compete for space on the nation’s editorial pages because they know that readers pay attention. Coaches, parents, and youth leaguers can make their voices heard with letters that help shape discussion about youth sports.

* * *

A Sample Letter

To illustrate what newspapers look for, here is my 85-word letter that appeared in the Kansas City Star in June of 2011, soon after the Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga pitched his near-perfect game, which was spoiled only when the first base umpire erroneously called the 27th Cleveland Indians hitter safe after an infield grounder, an error that the umpire later acknowledged.  (The letter evidently did not persuade any baseball writers or anyone in Major League Baseball!).

“To the editor:

 Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga deserves serious consideration for the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

With his graceful reaction to the umpire’s admittedly incorrect ninth-inning call that deprived him of a perfect game and baseball immortality earlier this month, Galarraga set a sterling example of sportsmanship and respect for the game that will itself grow immortal.

After years of steroids scandals and other embarrassments, nothing could be more valuable to Major League Baseball than that.

Douglas E. Abrams

 

[Sources: Douglas E. Abrams, Trading In the Marketplace of Ideas: Letters-to-the Editor and Op-Ed Articles – Parts I and II, Precedent (The Missouri Bar’s quarterly magazine) (Fall 2008 and Winter 2009); David Firestone, Israel Occupies the Op-Eds, Newsday, Jan. 11, 1988, at 3; John K. Wilson, How to Write a Letter to the Editor, ObamaPolitics.com (Aug. 3, 2008); Wanted: Pen Pals With Opinions, Dallas Morning News, Jan. 5, 2005, at 4B]

Contact us for more advertising information.

PUBLICIZING YOUR TEAM: How to Get the Word Out to the Media

 

 

Writing About Youth Sports in Newspaper Letters-to-the-Editor (Part I)

 

                                                By Doug Abrams

 

Broadcast journalist David Brinkley once said that “everybody is entitled to my opinion.”  As a prominent journalist for decades, he had greater opportunity than most other Americans to make his opinions widely known to anyone willing to read or listen to his commentary.  

Did you ever want to reach hundreds or thousands of people with your opinions about a disturbing youth sports event, such as an act of parental violence?  Or did you ever want to praise an athlete, parent or coach for setting the right example?  If you have ever reacted to a news story by thinking that “Somebody should say something,” this two-part column discusses how you can be that “somebody.”

People with something to say often overlook readily accessible public forums – newspaper editorial pages, which publish letters-to-the-editor nearly every day.  Publication is free, and you don’t have to be a journalist or professional writer to make your voice heard. When a newspaper publishes a letter-to-the-editor, the writer reaches many more people than someone with a microphone in a packed meeting hall could ever hope to reach.

This two-part column describes how parents, coaches and even youth leaguers themselves can write and submit letters-to-the-editor.  (Yes, even youth leaguers.  Newspapers frequently publish well written letters from kids, either in the general letters column or in a column reserved for teen writers.  The paper usually recites the writer’s age next to the writer’s name at the bottom, and published letters can be a big plus on a youth leaguer’s college application later on.)

Part I here concerns initial preparations for writing the letter, and next week’s column will discuss how to polish and submit it.  As a sample, next week’s column will end with a letter that I published in the Kansas City Star last year.

 

Initial Preparations

1. Availability.  The first step toward publication is to consult the newspaper’s website and carefully read its instructions for writing and submitting letters-to-the-editor. Smaller daily papers and weekly papers are the best bets because they publish many or most well written letters that they receive. Competition for space can be fiercer in larger papers. The New York Times, for example,receives roughly 1,200 letters each week.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch receives hundreds each week, with space to publish only about sixty.

Letters-to-the-editor generally respond to an editorial, article or letter that the newspaper recently covered or that was reported elsewhere.  Sometimes letters call attention to other matters that the writer considers important.  Many papers do not publish anonymous letters, ones signed only with initials or pseudonyms, or ones with multiple signatories. To encourage wide participation, some papers limit writers to one letter, say, every 30 or 60 days. Newspapers generally set the maximum length at about 200 words.

2. Respect the news cycle. “There is nothing older than yesterday’s news.” In today’s Internet/cable television age marked by non-stop around-the-clock-coverage, newspapers understand that readers have short attention spans. The New York Times advises that letters-to-the-editor about an especially timely topic “often appear within a day or two (and almost always within a week).”  Even if a newspaper waits longer for publication, it will likely give greatest consideration to letters submitted quickly.

Where the paper’s instructions permit, email the letter, either in a main text message (without attachments) to the address on the paper’s website, or by completing the website’s form. Faxing is also quick, though it requires retyping at the receiving end.  Letters sent by ordinary mail may be stale before the paper’s editorial staff ever sees them. Do not overwhelm the editorial staff by submitting the letter by more than one of these three methods.

3. When possible, anticipate.  This column’s older readers may remember Carly Simon’s 1971 hit song, “Anticipation,” which opens with “We can never know about the days to come / But we think about them anyway.”

If the letter writer plans to comment on the sort of incident whose future occurrence is predictable (such as acts of parental violence in a youth league game), the writer may indeed anticipate “the days to come” by drafting much of the letter in advance.  When the predictable incident hits the news, have the draft ready for submission to the target paper.  Quickly fill in the details about the incident, and dispatch the polished submission quickly to meet the swift news cycle.

4. Local, regional or national? The Internet now enables people to read newspapers published anywhere in the country, and indeed anywhere in the world. Many local and regional papers still consider letters only from readers within their market area, but other papers publish quality letters regardless of where the writer sits.  If you are unsure about papers outside the local area, send the letter anyway.  It does not take much effort to hit the “send” button, and the worst the paper can say is “no.”

Writers probably know the names of their own daily and weekly newspapers, and websites can provide the names and addresses of papers elsewhere. For links to national and state papers, just Google “national newspapers.” As of this writing, a convenient site with links to the nation’s leading papers is 100 Top US Newspapers By Circulation: http://www.thepaperboy.com/usa-top-100-newspapers.cfm.

5. Multiple submissions or exclusivity? Writing a letter-to-the-editor is a lot like going fishing. The manuscript is the bait, and the writer wants to catch at least one fish. But how wide should the net be cast?

On their websites, many newspapers insist on exclusive rights to letters within their immediate market area. The market area may mean a radius of a hundred miles or so, which may contain few competing papers anyway. For larger papers, the market area may cross state lines.

For some leading national newspapers (such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal), the market area may be national.  If you submit the letter to one of these papers, you may not submit it elsewhere until the paper rejects it.

Because these leading national newspapers rarely cover youth sports on their editorial pages, I would suggest targeting one or more papers that either do not require exclusivity at all, or that require exclusivity only within their immediate market area.  If you gamble on exclusive submission to the New York Times and lose after the editor holds your letter for ten days or so, the news cycle has passed you by. Your belated submission probably will not get serious consideration from any other paper.     

Writers who heed exclusivity requirements should say so above the letter-to-the-editor. Editorial staffs assume that writers have read their website, and thus that silence about exclusivity means multiple submissions. Facing tight daily deadlines, the staff member may find rejection easier than calling to ask. 

If the writer submits a letter to only one paper that does not require exclusivity, mention exclusivity anyway. The editors may appreciate the desire to appear in their paper, and appreciation might help tilt the scales in favor of publication. 

Next week:  Writing About Youth Sports in Newspaper Letters-to-the-Editor (Part II).

[Sources: Douglas E. Abrams, Trading In the Marketplace of Ideas: Letters-to-the Editor and Op-Ed Articles – Parts I and II, Precedent (The Missouri Bar’s quarterly magazine) (Fall 2008 and Winter 2009)]

PUBLICIZING YOUR TEAM — Getting the Word Out – Part II

Writing the Youth League Team’s Press Releases (Part II)

by Doug Abrams

 

Newspaper articles about youth league games provide players short-term recognition and long-term memories.  Many suburban and local newspapers — dailies and weeklies alike — publish well-written press releases. 

In last week’s column, I began discussing ten guidelines for how to write and submit press releases about youth sports associations and teams.  The first five guidelines appeared last week; the final five guidelines appear here, followed by two sample press releases at the end.  The two samples, drawn from the few hundred published press releases I have written over the years, might help associations, coaches and others who wish to begin writing releases for their own youth league teams.

        6.   Recognize all the players

Try to get each player’s name into print at least once during the season because publicity is important to everyone.  Most teams have stronger players and weaker players, but every player contributes in some way. 

In my youth hockey press releases, I name not only the goal scorers but also the players who registered assists, including the defensemen who play instrumental roles but normally do not score goals as often as the forwards.  I also learned quickly that if the players sense that scoring is the surest ticket into the newspapers, some players might “hog the puck” to try to score rather than play a balanced team-oriented game.  For better or worse, publicity can affect the performance of pros and youth leaguers alike.   

          7.  Cover losses as well as wins

Once the players learn that the coach or a designated adult writes the team’s press releases, the releases speak not only to newspaper readers but also to the players themselves.  Youth leaguers are sensitive to cues sent by adults, including cues that the adults do not even mean to send. 

If you submit press releases only after victories, the team senses that the players mean more to you after victories than after defeats.  But if you also write about losses, players learn that handling defeat gracefully is part of sports, and that their elders respect them for a solid effort, win or lose.  I would sometimes send no press release after a blowout loss, but that is a judgment call. 

         8.   Local newspapers usually want local names

Local newspapers survive by accenting local news, but also by winning a reputation for candor.  For writers of youth sports press releases, this combination usually means emphasizing local players’ names but also giving other players their due.  When a local player stars, mention the local connection (“Columbia’s Sammy Smith scored the second goal. . . .”).  But telling the entire story means accounting for the entire score, including leading efforts by opponents.  The sports editor may have instructions about the paper’s expectations for local news.  

        9.  Prepare a “souvenir scrapbook” for the players

The team’s post-season banquet or party is an excellent opportunity to present each player a scrapbook containing all the newspaper articles that appeared throughout the season, plus a roster and other memorabilia such as tournament announcements and the like.  With some cutting-and-pasting and a photocopy machine, the coach or designated parents can produce a bound souvenir that will stand the test of time.

       10.  Thank the sports editors at the end of the season

I wrote an earlier column about “the power of thank you.”  I repeat the primary sentiment here:  When people do someone else a good turn, they earn the right to be thanked. 

If the newspaper published the team’s press releases throughout the season, the sports editor and staff deserve thanks because they could easily hit the delete button every time or throw the press releases in the waste basket instead.  Sports editors are accustomed to catching grief from dissatisfied parents, who accuse them of shortchanging their children; editors may be less accustomed to hearing gratitude for a job well done.

At the end of the season, your team should send the sports editors a thank-you card signed by all the players themselves, and a separate thank-you card signed by all the parents.  The editors will remember the team’s thoughtfulness because they receive so few tokens of appreciation.  Today’s thank-yous can also pay rich dividends because they are your team’s ticket to more articles next season.

Postscript:  Two Sample Press Releases

Here are two press releases drawn from the few hundred I have written since 1970.  Both appeared in the sports pages within a few days.  Take the releases’ format and content merely as starting points, and tailor your releases to your personal style and your newspaper’s expectations.

The first release, from Long Island in 1983, contains play-by-play description for a newspaper that was willing to publish that description.  We were not sure that the newspaper would publish the last paragraph’s editorializing, which we hoped would place the state championship tournament in perspective for our players and parents.  The last paragraph paid off when the newspaper chose to publish it rather than cut it. 

The second release, from Missouri in 2006, contains only game statistics because that is what the newspaper wanted:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 27, 1983

For further information, please call Doug Abrams: —————-

Thank you very much.

 

Nassau Wins State Hockey Crown

            Combining finesse with steady disciplined play, the Nassau County Midget ice hockey team won the New York State championship last weekend in Clayton, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. The Nassau team, which features many of Long Island’s best 15-16-year-old players, . . . swept the state crown, winning all three preliminary games before trouncing Rochester, 7-2, in the semifinals and blanking Watertown 6-0 in the finals.

            Nassau opened the eight-team tournament Friday night with a hard-fought 3-2 triumph over defending champion Potsdam.  After Potsdam took an early lead in the first minute, Nassau’s ———— scored the equalizer with a slapshot late in the opening period.  The teams traded goals in the second stanza to set the stage for ———–’s dramatic game-winner, a deflection with less than three minutes remaining.  Potsdam continued to apply pressure but was thwarted on every attempt by goalie ————— and the Nassau defense, led by Captain —————, ———————, —————–, ——————, and ———————–.  [The article then described the remaining four games before concluding with this paragraph:]

            In presenting the State Championship Trophy to Nassau head coach Wally Livingstone and assistant coach Doug Abrams, tournament director Kevin Kittle told the cheering crowd, “The Nassau team showed us more than just skillful hockey this weekend. They also showed us clean, disciplined hockey. They are a credit to themselves, their parents, and to Nassau County.”

* * * *

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 7, 2006

For further information, please call Doug Abrams: —————-

Thank you very much.

                            

Eagles Mites Down Twin Bridges

            The Central Missouri Eagles mite hockey team defeated the Twin Bridges Lightning, 8-5, at the Washington Park Ice Arena in Jefferson City Saturday morning. ————— led the Eagles with five goals.  ————- scored twice, and ————- also scored. ————, ——————-, and ———- registered assists.  Eagles goalie ———— starred with 35 saves.

            The Eagles mites tied the Meramec Sharks, 5-5, in St. Louis Sunday morning. The Eagles’ ———— scored a three-goal hat trick, and ————– scored twice. Goalie ———— had 20 saves.

            The St. Louis Rockets downed the Eagles pee wee team, 8-2, in St. Louis on Saturday morning. —————- and ————— scored for the Eagles, and ——— and ——— had assists.

            The Affton Americans downed the Eagles pee wees, 7-2, in St. Louis on Sunday morning.  ————— and ————- scored for the Eagles, and ———– and ———————– registered assists.

*****************************************************************************

 

 

PUBLICIZING YOUR TEAM: How to Get the Word Out – Part I

 

Writing the Youth League Team’s Press Releases (Part I)

by Doug Abrams

 

The other night, I received a phone call from a youth hockey player I coached for several years until he graduated from high school in 2006.  He told me that he had been re-living old memories by reading his scrapbook containing news articles about our teams.  At any age, youth leaguers enjoy seeing their name in the sports section, where family and friends can read about them.  Old news clippings also remain valued souvenirs years later. 

In many communities, high school varsity sports receive regular newspaper coverage but youth league teams rarely break into print.  Things do not necessarily have to be that way.  If youth sports associations or teams submit press releases to the sports editor, they may be able to share some of the limelight with the varsities.  The association can designate one person to write for all the teams, or a coach or designated parent can write about his or her own team. 

Many suburban and small-town newspapers — dailies and weeklies alike — run press releases that they receive, including ones for teams whose players are as young as six or seven.  Newspaper coverage adds spice to the youth league season as the coaches and parents “go the extra mile” for the players.

I began writing my youth hockey teams’ press releases in 1970, and I have written a few hundred since then.  In the twenty years that I coached in the Nassau County hockey program on Long Island, these press releases appeared regularly in the old Long Island Press (a daily that ended publication in 1977) and in weekly papers throughout the county.  Daily papers also published my team’s press releases during my two years in upstate New York, and more recently in mid-Missouri. 

This two-part column discusses ten guidelines for how youth sports associations, coaches or designated parents can write and submit press releases about their teams.  The first five guidelines appear below; the next five guidelines, together with two sample press releases at the end, will appear next week in Part II.  

1.                  Will the newspaper publish press releases?

Before submitting the team’s first press release to the sports editor, you might  call the newspaper’s sports department, or check the paper’s website to see whether the department considers press releases at all.  Otherwise you might simply submit the first release and see what happens.  Submission without an initial phone call has always worked for me, but some associations and coaches might feel more comfortable calling first.  Particularly in smaller communities, a parent may know the sports editor and thus open the door.

When you fax or email the first press release to the sports editor, you will learn quickly whether the paper will use it.  Include your name, address and phone number, and invite the editor or staff member to contact you if he or she has any questions or suggestions about future releases. 

If the editor publishes the first release without contacting you, keep the releases coming after future games.  If the editor does contact you for information, you can begin building a personal relationship by expressing thanks and appreciation.  After a few releases, the newspaper might also accept an occasional photograph, with your suggested caption. Perhaps add a personal touch by sending along the team’s game schedule and inviting the editor and staff to attend a game. Sometimes staff members do a story of their own after publishing press releases for much of the season.   

The remaining nine guidelines assume that the newspaper will publish youth league press releases.

2.                  Make the press releases user-friendly

In daily and weekly newspapers alike, news rooms are busy places with frenetic deadlines.  Make sure that your press releases are well written, grammatically correct, neatly presented, and ready to use as-is.  The sports department’s staff simply does not have the time or inclination to do heavy edits about youth league games, particularly games that no staff writer watched in person.  Nor does the staff usually have the time or inclination to seek out the association or coach for clarifications.

Before submitting a press release, try to have it proofread and critiqued by a friend, preferably someone who understands good writing style but did not attend the games.  Your proofreader may catch typos that you missed, and may also flag ambiguities that might confuse the editor, who also did not attend the games. Another pair of eyes helps any writer, and biochemist George Wald was right: “We are the products of editing, rather than of authorship.”  

Check the newspaper’s website for any guidelines about submitting press releases. Nowadays most editors prefer submissions that are emailed rather than faxed because emailing permits instant use without retyping.   Most newspapers also want the emailed submission in the main text, and not in an attachment.

3.                  Follow the conventions of good journalism

Provide a headline (which the editor might choose to rewrite, according to the paper’s own style).  In the first paragraph, provide the “five W’s” – who, what, where, when and why.  Spell the players’ names correctly, and be precise about scores, events and other matters. Do not expect or ask for a byline containing your name.

Because the news cycle works so fast these days, submit the press release quickly.  Unless the editor suggests otherwise, quickness usually means emailing or faxing the release on the day of the games or the next morning.  The editor might not run the article for a few days, but chances of publication decrease when the news is stale before the editor sees it. 

4.                  Be brief 

Your team might be the most important team in the world to you and your players’ families, but you are not the New York Yankees or the New York Jets.  Newspaper sports editors operate under chronic space limitations that may let them devote a few inches to youth league coverage, but not full-length articles. 

After a few press releases appear in print, you will learn how much space the paper can devote to youth sports.  If the editor consistently cuts to a particular length, your future releases should adopt that length.  If the editor routinely deletes the last paragraph, include less essential information in that paragraph and hope that the editor does not cut from earlier paragraphs!

Chronic space limitations compel you to follow the three guidelines of good writing – “Cut, Cut, Cut.”  Err on the side of brevity until you learn what the newspaper can handle.  William Shakespeare was on target (in Hamlet): “Brevity is the soul of wit.” 

I always operated under the assumption that if I cut a press release in half, I would double the chances of publication; but that if I doubled the length, I would reduce the chances by half.  I cannot prove the math, but I like the formula.  Because good writer’s strive to finish before the reader does, your press release should finish before the sports editor feels the urge to turn attention elsewhere.

5.                  Don’t “flame.” 

You are a non-employee seeking access to the sports pages.  You are not a staff sportswriter who understands the newspaper’s style and holds the editors’ confidence.  You may be fiercely proud of your team, but the editor does not want to read that the team “annihilated” or “massacred” their ten-year-old opponents.  Write gracefully, but you lose credibility unless you tone down the partisanship and let the score speak for itself.  

A press release succeeds when readers remember the players and not the writer.  Youth sports should be about the youths, and not about the adults.  

Next week:  Writing the Youth League Team’s Press Releases (Part II)