After reporting your news, you can expect us to ask you to submit a draft text in Dutch. You must bear in mind the target audience when you do this. The most important readers of this press release are editors or journalists without a background in physics! Specialists can effortlessly see the essential details in a well-written press release. Non-specialists can lose the thread in an elaborate and overdetailed press release.
The edited version is returned to the researchers. When checking this, pay particular attention to inaccuracies in the physics as we want to avoid these. In this phase the press officers check if the target group can indeed pick up the essential details. The press release goes back and forth several times during this stage. Therefore we need at least one week before the final version is available.
Report your news, please contact Gabby Zegers, Melissa Vianen, Margit de Kok or Martine van Harderwijk, Communications Department of NWO Domain Science and NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO. We then keep contact with the press officers of other interested organisations (universities and institutes) about who will publish what and when, to who we will send the press release, and where it will be published online. The guidelines for the draft text below will enable you to prepare thoroughly for our feedback.
What is our aim? After just a single read though the press release (and ideally after just the lead paragraph) it must be clear that Something Fantastic has been done.
The communication department usually subjects the draft version to a severe edit. A few tips:
- Put a verb in the title.
- The first (lead) paragraph is always a short summary of the most relevant information put in about four sentences. We usually write or rewrite this: it must be possible to place this paragraph, without rewriting it, as an 'in brief', independent of the rest of the press release.
- Make sure that the entire press release (including a half A4 of captions and contact information) is no more than two pages in length.
- Furthermore, the order of the information is often reversed as press releases have an opposite order to what a researcher is used to delivering!
- Avoid passive sentences (often with the word 'to be'; in any case sentences with past participle constructions and a missing or difficult to recognise sentence subject).
- Use as little jargon as possible. We can always provide additional information in separate blocks. The body of the press release must grab the attention of all journalists and must therefore be highly accessible. Journalists who want to delve into the details of the subject will phone for an interview - we prefer they do this rather than merely adopt the press release for use.
- Provide attractive illustrations! Preferably in. jgp format in high resolution and with a good and highly accessible caption.
- Indicate when and where the article will be published, and if possible include a URL.
- Make sure that the contact person can be reached - both during the drafting of the press release and after its publication. Sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language is needed to discuss the drafting of the press release but for contact with journalists English is also fine.
Before you write, please consider the following issues; this is what we look out for as well:
What is, in maximum 7 words and without jargon, the discovery? What is the essence of the news and what is the innovation?
How was this done? During this process, information is lost and that is meant to be the case. Cut and reformulate until just the essence remains.
Who is waiting for the results - who has been flabbergasted and who will want to repeat this work? Has similar work been done previously or elsewhere and what was the current scientific knowledge before this research?
Why is the research interesting, what is its relevance for other scientists and for the wider world? Are there applications in the everyday world; are there implications for fellow researchers or for scientists outside of your field of work? Without such clear links the story will be lost. The reader must not only discover what has been done but, most of all, why this is interesting.
When can the next step be expected? Is an exciting follow-up study planned or is a practical application almost in view?