For me, the holiday season is about the long standing traditions that have been passed down through my family over generations. More times than not, these traditions include food. As I was helping out in the kitchen this past Thanksgiving, I realized the similarities between following the recipe for my mom’s infamous apple pie and writing a press release. Both require a quick preparation, simple ingredients and follow a specific formula that when executed correctly, will pay sweet dividends time and time again. My recipes for both follow below.
Before any cooking begins, closely read the recipe over. Make sure you have each of the ingredients, grease the pan and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Similar to preheating an oven, when preparing to write a press release, it is important to ask these questions: What is the news being announced in this release? Who is the audience/who will be reading this announcement? What are the three most important or key messages? Drafting an outline can help determine the structure and details of the release before worrying about the specific wording.
My mom’s apple pie calls for ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon salt, two tablespoons of butter and about 8 cups of sliced Cortland apples. The sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt are mixed together with the apples until well combined. Spoon the apple mixture into pastry-lined pie plate, cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle it over the filling.
An effective press release begins with the 5 W’s – the who, what, where, why, when. The remainder of the release expands upon and sweetens the information provided in the first paragraph and may include quotes from key staff, customers or third party industry experts. The final paragraph summarizes the release and provides any lingering details.
The final steps of my mom’s pie include rolling the top pie crust over the filling, sprinkling with sugar, baking for 40 to 50 minutes (until crust is brown) and distributing. Similarly, the final steps when preparing a press release include writing the headline and subhead, proofreading for any typos and circulating as appropriate.
I hope you will find this recipe helpful for your next holiday gathering or news announcement. While there are fewer variables for a pie than a press release, following a measured plan like this will lead to a satisfied audience.