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. Specifically, you’ll learn to how to:

PRSA members: Earn 4 APR maintenance points!

Save $100 when you register by May 15.

NOT Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop on Sept. 6-7, 2018 in Atlanta

Atlanta | Sept. 6-7, 2018

Save $100 when you register by May 15.


“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,” write 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?

Build a Better Release

Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate

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

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

In this session, you’ll learn how to organize PR pieces to grab reader 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: What’s really supposed to go into these things?

Cut Through the Clutter in PR

Make media relations pieces easier to read & understand

Regardless of what you’re writing, Cutting Through the Clutter is the No. 1 way to keep readers reading.

But the stakes are even higher when it comes to PR pieces. That’s because, say, if your lead is too long, Google News might reject it. If it’s too short, Google News will reject it.

Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of PR writers who could actually apply it. But you’ll leave this session with “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your PR message’s readability. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Pass the Goldilocks test: Write a headline that’s not too long, not too short, but just right. (Google News ignores one in five releases because the headline is too long!)
  • Write a one-minute release: Journalists rarely spend longer reviewing releases, according to a GreenTarget survey.
  • Stop using the most overused PR buzzwords: Journalists and bloggers — not to mention readers — will love you for it.
  • Write by number: What’s the right length for your release? Your paragraphs? Your quotes? Your sentences? Your words?
  • Use a cool tool (to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability. PR pros in our recent Master Classes have improved readability by up to 300% with this resource.

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 to 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.

Lift Ideas Off the Release

Reach journalists, bloggers and readers with display copy

Sixty percent of your audience members aren’t reading your release, pitch or bylined article, according to estimates by professors at the University of Missouri.

So how can you craft PR pieces that reach nonreaders?

In this session, you’ll learn how to use your display copy — subject lines, headlines and links, for instance — to pull readers into your PR pieces, make them more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Reach the 67% of “readers” who skim the news, according to Harris Interactive Poll. (Just 19% read news word-by-word.)
  • Write links that don’t get lost on portals. Plus, avoid the wrath of Google News by adding one essential element to your links.
  • Make the most of the first 11 characters of your headline. Otherwise, potential readers might skip instead of click.
  • Make your release, pitch or other PR piece 47% more usable by adding a few simple elements.
  • And more … Learn other PR writing best practices from the author of PRSA Tactics’ “Writing With Wylie.”

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.

In this session, you’ll learn the latest best practices for optimizing your release. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • 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 story from ‘meh’ to masterpiece

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. You’ll get 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.

Don’t miss out. This is the only PR-writing workshop in Atlanta we have scheduled for 2018.

Save $100 when you register by May 15.


“I learned more about writing in two days than in four years of college and six years of practice.”
– Samantha Jorgensen, public relations & social media manager, Charles River Labs
“Without question, the best workshop I’ve ever taken.”
– Sarah Julian, director of communications, Oklahoma Public School Resource Center
“Every PR pro should take this!”
– Najeema Holas-Huggins, communications manager, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
“I highly recommend taking this class. I would take it again in a heartbeat to learn more and advance my writing.”
– Kim Bailey, manager of public relations, HCP Associates
“This is the best writing class I’ve attended in my 25-year PR career.”
— Mark Alden, PR manager, National Semiconductor
More participant comments
“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
“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.”
— Stephanie Sobotik, senior manager, global marketing communications at Freescale Semiconductor
“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!”
– Adam Jacobs, associate account executive, CMD

Ready to polish your PR-writing skills?


Ann WylieAnn Wylie runs a training, editing and consulting firm called Wylie Communications. 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. There, she helps clients at organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work.

Ann has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her communications. She is the author of more than a dozen learning tools that help people improve their communication skills, including, a toolbox for writers.

Learn more about Ann

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.


Roam Galleria

3101 Cobb Pkwy SE, 2nd floor
Atlanta, GA 30339

Directions, Maps and parking information.

Meet me in Atlanta

If you’ve ever doubted the power of words, please join me at The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

In a world where — as Marc Maron said recently on “Real Time” — “there’s a difference between a hashtag and actual legislation,” the King Center is a powerful reminder that it took “I have a dream” to realize the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Move people to act

Move people to act Learn to Catch Your Readers in Atlanta in Sept. And find some time to check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Center while you’re in town. Image by Ryan Quick

Words do matter. And there’s no better place to talk about using words to move people to act this spring than Atlanta — aka HotLanta, aka ATL.

This sophisticated city ain’t Rhett Butler’s town any more, though that won’t stop you from making an homage to Margaret Mitchell along Atlanta’s Gone With the Wind trail. That is, if you can find time between visiting the world-class Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Botanical Garden in the full flowering of spring.

Not to mention the day trips: Atlanta is 90 minutes away from Athens, home to R.E.M., the B-52s and Widespread Panic … Toccoa Falls (“toccoa” means “beautiful” in Cherokee) … and the sleepy mountain town of Summerville, which boasts Howard Finster’s masterpiece of folk art, Paradise Garden.

Why not make a long weekend of it?

As for me, I’ll kick back after our fall 2018 PR-writing Master Class by checking out the music scene at the legendary Fox Theatre; devouring the pimento cheese grits and biscuits at West Egg Café; and feasting on Mediterranean cuisine at the Last Word (with that name, how could I possibly resist?)

Maybe we’ll run into each other!


Daily schedule

8:15 a.m. Registration
9 a.m. Workshop begins
Noon Lunch
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+
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Save $700+
Training, lunches, workbook
$250 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 when you register by May 15.
  • 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 July 6, 2018, to receive a full refund, minus a 20% handling fee.
    • by Aug. 6, 2018, to receive a 75% refund.
    • Sorry, no refunds after Aug. 6, 2018.

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 and 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 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 when you register by May 15.
  • 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.

I booked my ticket without applying the discount code. Or I received the code after booking the ticket. Can I get a refund for the discount?

Sorry, but you need to apply the discount code when you purchase. We are not able to apply discounts after the fact.

I booked my individual ticket, and now I’m bringing colleagues.

Can I still get the group discount? Please email us, and we’ll send you a special discount code your colleagues can apply to get the discount.

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

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.

Can you you accommodate special needs (accessibility, nursing mothers, etc.)?

Yes, we will do everything we can to accommodate your request. Please contact us by email and let us know what you need.

Will you sell my personal information?

No. We never share personal information with other companies.

Save $100 when you register by May 15.

Register now

Questions?; +1 (503) 954-2289.

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