A press release is an extremely useful communication tool and used by journalists and press teams all over the world yet many MUNers, both delegates and press core, do not use the press releases effectively. Proper use of a press release can really give you leg up when getting press corps coverage and make an impact, especially if a press corps journalist is not present at your committee while an important moment is taking place.
What is a press release?
A press release is an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter or event. A press release is often submitted by the journalist who wants to write the article but not always.
Why is a press release important
A press release is important because it contains all the important information needed to convey what happened. A well written press release is an effective way to inform the editor of the events occurring in your MUN committee and hopefully getting press coverage. (Additionally, some press corps articles can get the MUN conference attention from local news outlets outside the conference, which can be good for conference PR but that’s another article).
Who can write a press release
Journalists – Press corps journalists come in two forms. The first are conference press sent to committees to write the stories. The second are journalists who are half delegates, sent to cover stories from the perspective of a specific news outlet. In both cases, the journalists can be given awards for their writing and coverage.
Often the press corps journalists write the full articles themselves at a later point. Sometimes they hand the writing off to writers.Often the articles need approval from the Editor in Cheif to write a story.
Delegates – At some conferences regular MUN delegates can also sub mit press releases. This can be a lead for the writing team to write an article or an incentive for the Editor in Cheif to send a journalist to the committee. Often, there aren’t specific guidelines about delegates sending in press releases. When in doubt it doesn’t hurt to try, maybe you’ll start a new conference tradition!
How to get the story
The goal of MUN press corps is to run press and stories as if what happened at the MUN as if took place in the real word and just like in the real world, the press has many ways of getting a worthy story to write about. Here are a few of them.
Witnessing the event
This is one of the most common ways an article is written in MUN, when a press member is sitting in the committee room and witnesses an event unfold in real-time.
A source / lead
At a MUN, a common source is a chair, or a delegate, who offered the press an inside scoop on a story of what is happening. In this case, the delegate has their own interest in how the story is told.
Other news outlets
This is not the most common in MUN, since there is usually only one press corps. However, if you are at a very big conference there can be times when a delegate in the press corps may want to write a story on the same topic a previous delegate wrote about. In these cases there is time for additional perspectives and an opening for another narrative on the same event.
MUN Press Release Structure and Content
Press releases are an underused manner of getting your story covered by the press corps in MUN. In the real world, you may write a piece and email it out to 100’s of newspapers to get your story covered. In MUN, you only have one news source to send your story to so you want to be strategic in how you write your press releases.
Put the core of the story first and don’t overthink the press release. You can think of a press release as an email you send the press team in hopes that they will cover the event you are sending their way.
Newsworthy story criteria
Make the news something worth writing about and publishing. Sending a press release on a boring event like “The delegate of the USA yielded their final 10 seconds of speaking time to the chair” would probably not get any coverage because “who cares”. On the other hand, if the debate of Nicaragua threatened to wage war on India if they do not join their resolution, that may be press worthy.
Use common sense to distinguish a story from regular Rules of Procedure and a more important action or quote over a less important one. To do this, it’s best to follow write what makes sense in a regular press release and adapt it to MUN.
- Who is the audience? Delegates in a committee? the entire conference? non MUNers?
- Suggest writing stories which involve wider arcs of committee action.
- Focus on specific moments which could be relevant to the longer term, and not just relevant until the next specific moment.
Parts of a press release
The first line needs to grab the readers attention and clearly explains what the release is about. “ECOSOC delegate of Russia goes to Security Council to tell their Russia not to vote for the resolution.” seems like a unique and interesting title you’d want to know more about.
Location and Characters
Make sure to specify where the news is taking place. At MUN conferences there are many committees and countries so the “where”, as well as the “who”, is very important and specific.
The lead is the first handful of sentences where you explain your newsworthy content in one sentence. This is where you want to cut out hyperbole and get to the point. This is where you summarize your subject in the first paragraph.
The body is where you put the rest of the information. If the lead is the hook the body is the details and the resolution of the situation. The body should be easily skimmable information provided in decreasing levels of importance. The body is made more colorful with quotes from various players in the story.
A few lines to sum up the mean ideas and give some words, or thoughts, for moving forward.
Details for where to get further information are especially important when you are a MUN delegate submitting your idea to the press corps. If they like your idea, and find it important, they might need you for more information.
Also, MUN press corps journalists should leave details. This is helpful to get more information on the story and also give them credit when asked for.
Notes to the Editor
Sometimes, the press release is sent off and the release writer has no further contact. In these cases notes to the editor are very important and can significantly impact how the article is written and presented.
When writing a press release you have two readers to keep in mind, the Editor in Chief, who needs to approve the idea and the final audience. It is good practice to make your press release as attractive as possible.
Once you have an idea write it out in a clear structured way. Try to find a good balance when writing and try to make it relevant and interesting to you audience.
Press releases take practice writing but the core principles are the same. Your first line is the hook. After that, each line should lead into the next one. Follow these rules and you’ll be on your way to writing great press release for MUN!