January 21, 2018

NOT Your Father’s News Release

Learn to get the word out via media relations in this PR-writing workshop

“Since I attended Ann’s PR writing class and started implementing her tips, every press release I’ve written has been picked up by the media. That’s what I call ROI!”
— Stephanie Sobotik, senior manager, global marketing communications at Freescale Semiconductor

PR professionals have been married to the traditional news release format since Ivy Lee created the release more than 100 years ago. Why, then, do we need a new approach?

With 2,500 releases going out each day — that’s one every 35 seconds — the impact of your traditional news release ain’t what it used to be. In fact, more than half of all traditional press releases never get covered, according to PR Newswire’s own research.

In this PR writing workshop, you’ll learn current best practices from the Public Relations Society of America’s “national writing coach.” You’ll find out how to go beyond PR 101 approaches to write media relations pieces that get posted and published and reach stakeholders directly.

Last call to register for Not Your Father’s News Release in 2017


NOT Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop on May 18-19, 2017 in Chicago

Chicago | May 18-19


“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser

Think Like a Reporter

Develop stories that media outlets want to run

Consider the numbers:

  • Two-thirds of business-to-business editors said that fewer than half of the releases they receive are relevant to their publication, according to a survey conducted by Thomas Rankin Associates.
  • Some 65% to 75% of city editors believed media relations pieces promote “products, services and other activities that don’t legitimately deserve promotion,” writes Dennis L. Wilcox and Lawrence W. Nolte in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques.
  • No wonder some studies estimate that 55% to 97% of all releases sent to media outlets are never used, according to Wilcox and Nolte.

So how can you create PR pieces that are among the 3% to 45% of those that actually get the word out?

In this session, you’ll learn how to think like a reporter to develop story angles that readers want to read (and that journalists and bloggers want to run).

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Fill in the blanks to a great benefits lead: You’ll leave with formulas and recipes for crafting leads that sell the story and stand out from the crowd.
  • Move from event to impact: Learn simple steps for transforming your event, speech or meeting coverage into news readers can use to live their lives better.
  • Create two types of stories media outlets want more of (and avoid one they wish they’d never see again!)
  • Go beyond “new and improved” to information readers really want to know about your product.
  • Steal secrets from Silver Anvil winners: What do nationally award-winning PR writers do that you don’t do?

Master the Anatomy of a News Release

Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate

Prose is architecture, Ernest Hemingway famously said. It’s not interior design.

So: Are you building a compelling foundation for your PR pieces? Or are you still using structural techniques you learned when you were 19?

Here’s the bad news: The story structure you’re using today probably isn’t helping you get the word out via media relations. In fact, the traditional news structure reduces readership, understanding, sharing and engagement and — according to a study by The Poynter Institute — does “not work well with readers.”

Here’s the good news: In this session, you’ll learn to use a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Decide between triangles, boxes or lists: Choose a structure that increases readership, engagement and sharing. (Hint: The structure you’re using now is probably doing the opposite.)
  • Steal a trick from The New York Times: Trade in your bloated fact packs for snappy synthesis leads.
  • Build a better benefits lead with our fill-in-the-blanks approach.
  • Avoid PR 101 leads: Still stuffing all those W’s and the H into the first paragraph? Still writing “XYZ Company today announces that …”? It’s time to move on to a more effective approach.
  • Beat the boilerplate blues: Here’s one way to stay off The Bad Pitch Blog.

Write Killer Bites

Turn lame-ass quotes into scintillating sound bites

Half of reporters complain that quotes in releases don’t sound natural, according to a 2014 Greentarget survey. Maybe that’s why 78% of them don’t regularly use quotes from releases.

No wonder! As one of my clients says, “Quotes in news releases sound like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”

So how can you get the wah-wah out and instead write quotes that reporters will actually use?

In this session, you’ll learn how to transform your quotations from bleh to brilliant.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Write tight bites. Even a lame quote will sound better when you use our quote length targets.
  • Put a quota on quotes. Steal a trick from The New York Times to avoid overquoting.
  • Write quotes that sound human — not like a computer spit them out.
  • Avoid the worst PR clichés. PR Newswire sees 1,284 of these in a single month.
  • Steal techniques from Silver Anvil winners. Make your sound bites sound better.

Cut Through the Clutter in PR

Increase coverage, sharing and more with tight, bright releases

Regardless of what you’re writing, Cutting Through the Clutter can help you keep readers from running screaming from your message.

But when it comes to PR pieces, the stakes are even higher.

If your release is too long, for instance, Google News may reject it. If your lead is too long, journalists may stop reading. If you pack your release with too much hyperbole, you’ll reduce coverage, dilute SEO efforts and kill your chances at going viral.

In this session, you’ll how to write tight, bright PR pieces that increase readership, coverage, sharing and more.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Target the right length to reach the 70% of journalists who spend less than one minute reading releases. (The median release on PRNewswire is three times this recommended length.)
  • Avoid a common PR practice that journalists say “gets in the way” of their doing their jobs, according to one survey.
  • Remove from your lead one but-that’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it element that’s obscuring the meaning of your story.
  • Stop relying on the most overused PR buzzwords: Journalists and bloggers — not to mention readers — will love you for it.
  • Write a lead that excites journalists before their internal alarm clock goes off and they move on to the next release.

Lift Ideas Off the Release

Reach journalists, bloggers and readers with display copy

It’s “the dirtiest four-letter word in the English language,” says Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics: “‘Read.’”

Indeed, more than 70% of journalists spend less than a minute, on average, per release. That means they don’t read your message word by word. More likely, they skim.

So how can you craft PR pieces that reach flippers, skimmers and other nonreaders?

The answer is in your headline, deck, links and other display copy. These elements receive the most readership of all of the words we write. Yet too many PR pros blow off the display copy, writing some elements “the way we’ve always done them” and leaving out other elements altogether.

In this session, you’ll learn how to use your display copy to draw people into your PR pieces, make your releases more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Steal techniques from Silver Anvil Award winning headlines. What do these winners do that you’re not doing?
  • Make the most of the most important word in your headline. Test yours against our checklist.
  • Write links that don’t get lost on portals. The best news release links are unlike any others. Do yours have the right stuff?
  • Avoid Google’s wrath. Learn why Google News ignores one in five releases — and how to make sure yours isn’t next.
  • And more … Get other PR writing best practices from the author of PRSA Tactics’ “Writing With Wylie” column.

Optimize for Google and Humans

Master SEO for releases

Optimizing your release can increase the audience for your news by 538%, website visits by 1,900% and tweets by 800%, according to five side-by-side case studies by SEO-PR and Rutgers CMD.

The good news is, news release optimization takes only a few simple steps. The bad news is, few PR pros know what those steps are. Even some of the best-intentioned pros use SEO techniques that get penalized — not rewarded — by Google.

Bottom line: If you’re still using the SEO tricks you learned five years ago, you are hurting, not helping, your SEO.

In this session, you’ll learn the latest best practices for optimizing your release to get found and read.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Keep up with what Google wants. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. Oh my! Find out what SEO practices Google rewards — and penalizes — today.
  • Avoid Google’s wrath. Avoid best practices from last year that Google now treats as gaming the system. The penalty: lower rankings.
  • Link for SEO. Learn where to link, how often to link, how to write a release link (it’s different from every other kind) and what you must add to your links to avoid being penalized by Google.
  • Optimize for semantic search. Now that Google’s gotten smarter, as well as tougher, keyword stuffing can’t help, might hurt. So what’s a writer to do?
  • Write for search engine results pages. Help readers click on, as well as find, your release.

Get a PR writing workout with Wylie

Take your release from ‘meh’ to masterpiece when you practice your new skills on your own work

In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our practice sessions, you’ll get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.

Bring your laptop and a story to work on. We’ll give you a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

In these practice sessions, you’ll:

  • Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
  • Gain valuable insights on your work from your peers and from Ann.
  • Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.

Participants’ comments

“This is the best writing class I’ve attended in my 25-year PR career.”
— Mark Alden, PR manager, National Semiconductor


“Great – a must! Highly recommend.”
– Jo Banner, communications manager, New Orleans Plantation Country


“Fantastic! Reinforced some of our best practices, and identified so many more that we can put to action immediately.”
— Kelsey Ruthman, account manager, Osborn Barr


“Great workshop! So glad I attended. Real takeaways. Ann is a fantastic presenter and so engaging.”
— Sarah Broome, public relations specialist, Microchip


“Ann presents ideas in a way that solidify the concepts in my mind. Thank you!”
— Kris Hay, communications coordinator, University of Puget Sound Career & Employment Services


“I LOVED it! Ann is dynamic, informed and creative!”
— Hanna Herrin, account coordinator, Maxwell PR


More participant comments
“It was great. I learned a lot and had a good time learning how to edit and rewrite my press releases.”
— Laura Lundberg, account executive, CMD


“A+. It gave me a chance to reflect on my writing and take away lessons learned to my company.”
– Katie Schur, senior account executive, Aria Marketing


“Ann’s workshop is a fun, informative way to drastically improve my work.”
– Bill Pearson, public relations specialist, Navy Federal Credit Union


“Enlightening. Provides guidance, structure, suggestions, and overall a better understanding on writing for the reader.”
– Lori Araujo, communications specialist, Mission Support Alliance


“Comprehensive learning experience packed with relevant facts and information to back up best practices.”
– Adam Jacobs, associate account executive, CMD



Ann WylieAnn Wylie runs a training, editing and consulting firm called Wylie Communications. There, she works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out.

Her workshops take her from Hollywood to Helsinki and to organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia. She has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her communications.

Location & accommodations

“Makes me want to go back and revise everything I’ve done in the past three years.”
— Blythe Campbell, director, communications and marketing, NANA Development Corp.
Meet me in Chicago

Meet me in Chicago


DePaul Center

DePaul University Loop Campus

Joan Wish Center
1 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-2287

Campus maps

Directions, Maps and parking information

Hotels near the Master Class

Please contact hotels directly for room rates and booking.

Daily schedule

8 a.m. Registration
9 a.m. Workshop begins
12 p.m. Lunch break
1 p.m. Workshop resumes
4 p.m. Workshop ends


Your ticket includes morning coffee and tea, lunch and afternoon refreshments.


“Absolutely the best money I’ve ever spent. I learned more about writing for my audience from Ann in one day than I have in any other seminar.”
— Carie Behounek, marketing communications coordinator, COPIC Companies
Save $100+
Save $300+
Save $700+
Training, lunches, workbook
$281.50 worth of learning tools for $100
$297 subscription to Rev Up Readership for $100 more
30-minute one-on-one phone consult with Ann ($500 value)


  • Save $100 if you’re a Rev Up Readership member. (Join Rev Up Readership.)
  • Save $100 each when you bring two or more colleagues. (Big group? If you have 10 or more colleagues who would benefit from training, contact Ann to schedule a customized, in-house writing workshop.)
  • Save $50 each when you bring one colleague.

Payment policy

Your registration is not complete until you have paid in full. If your company requires an invoice, please use either the printable invoice or the email confirmation you will receive. Both will include the details of the workshop, including the dates and the workshop fee.

Payment methods

You may pay by credit card or check.
Amex, Mastercard and VIsa credit cards accepted


Can’t make it?

  • Send a colleague. We’ll miss you! But please feel free to send a friend in your place. No charge for substitutions.
  • Transfer to a different Master Class. Choose one of our upcoming workshops. No charge to transfer.
  • Don’t cancel! But if you must, please cancel via email:
    • by March 18, to receive a full refund, minus a 20% handling fee.
    • by April 18, to receive a 75% refund.
    • Sorry, no refunds after April 18.

Course cancellations

We reserve the right to cancel workshops. If we do, we will apply your registration fee to another workshop or refund your fee. But we will not be responsible for any additional costs you have incurred, such as airfare or travel expenses.


You’ll receive confirmation of your registration by email. Please white-list Ann@WylieComm.com and orders@eventbrite.com to make sure you receive your registration materials. If they don’t arrive within an hour of your registration, please contact us directly.

Don’t miss your chance.

Our Master Classes sell out quickly. If you’re interested in attending, please act now.


Frequently asked questions

May I pay by check or purchase order?
Yes, please contact us at Ann@WylieComm.com. Let us know how many and what type of tickets you need, attendee details and your preferred payment method. We will issue an invoice or purchase order if you need one.

Do you offer any discounts?
We have no doubt that the Master Class will be the best money you invest this year on your professional development. But here are six ways to reduce that investment or boost your return on it:

  • Save $100 if you’re a Rev Up Readership member. (Join Rev Up Readership.) Save $100 if you’re a PRSA member. (Join PRSA.) Click “Enter promotional code” and enter your promo code.
  • Save $100 each when you bring two or more colleagues. (Big group? If you have 10 or more colleagues who would benefit from training, contact Ann to schedule a customized, in-house writing workshop.)
  • Save $50 each when you bring one colleague.

Should I bring a laptop?
Yes, please bring one. You’ll need it to edit your work and get feedback from your peers and Ann.

Should I bring my writing sample to the workshop?
Yes, please bring your writing samples to the workshop. You’ll write, rewrite and edit and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

How do I contact you?
Please email us at Ann@WylieComm.com.

May I update my registration information?
Yes. Please go to Eventbrite and update your registration information and dietary information.

Should I bring my printed ticket to the workshop?
Yes, please bring a copy of the ticket to the workshop.

What is the dress code for the workshop
Business casual.

Do you accommodate special dietary preferences?
Please specify your dietary preference when you register.

Will you sell my personal information?
No. We never share personal information with other companies.

Questions? Ann@WylieComm.com; +1 (503) 954-2289.

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