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Welcome to our Press Release Lesson. Here you will learn a bit about what it means to tell a story, and be provided with a few tools to help you tell YOUR story in the medium of the press release.

Let’s pause for a moment and re-visit the definition of a story before we identify a few motivations we have when we read a news story. 

sto·ry1

ˈstôrē/

noun

1.an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment."an adventure story" 

2. an account of past events in someone's life or in the evolution of something."the story of modern farming"

EMPATHY & IDENTIFICATION

First, assuming the good nature of the reader, he or she is interested in reading the story because it's about people, and presumably, the reader feels some level of empathy and/or interest in other people’s experience of the world. Stories that touch us do so in great part because they were written in a manner that allows for a deep, empathic connection. 

 

DRAMA & STRUGGLE

The second reason we might admit being drawn to a news story is because of its drama. Most news stories focus on a crisis or struggle in the world. You probably know instinctively that the most satisfying stories have a climax. It’s just in our nature to listen to or read a story and expect there to be a struggle of some kind, and then yearn for its resolution. 

What does this have to do a farmer writing a press release? Well, given the current under-funded state of journalism, it’s likely that your press release will be published as you write it - it WILL be the story. Local newspapers are generally eager for content, especially stories about the local food movement. If you haven’t noticed yet, you, as a farmer or beekeeper, are actually a hero in the collective American consciousness at this moment. This gives you tremendous power to write exactly what you would want to see written. Therefore, it’s useful for you to have an idea of the story you would like to write and the elements you’ll need to make it as compelling as possible!  

 Download the extended PDF version of this lesson for even more tips and examples!

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DON’T BE SHY, BE PROUD!

Ask the local newspaper to feature your farm or apiary! Don’t by shy. It’s likely they are hungry for content and will jump at the chance to feature you, especially in the spring!

Each farm or apiary is unique and articles are most effective when you let that difference shine. That makes it hard to take a cookie-cutter approach, so we’ve developed a loose guide to the important elements you might consider when creating your own article to send to your local paper. We’ve also included a few (purely fictional) examples to help get your creative juices flowing.


TIP #1: EVENTS ARE GREAT NEWS STORIES

 

Want to get in the news? Think about hosting an event! Events are great news stories because they've got a sense of urgency to them. This is happening NEXT WEEK. Take a look at this story written about Five Elements Farm and their second annual earth day event. 

Click here to read the story.

 

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 Download the extended PDF version of this lesson for even more tips and examples!

 

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TIP #2: START AT THE BEGINNING & KEEP IT PERSONAL

 

Your story before becoming a farmer is so important!

The USDA fposted an article about Ivory Smith, of SmithPonics in Poplarville, Miss. which featured the fact that he served in the Infantry in the Army National Guard before he became a farmer. What did YOU do before you became a farmer? What is the story that led you to this place? 

A quote from the article: "Ivory has been able to make the transition from fighter to farmer, starting with a couple buckets and some seeds this spring to his newly-completed insulated planting shed. With year-round operation now possible for his microgreens customers, he can watch his business grow much like his microgreens (and his little boy, too.)"

Click here to read the story.

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TIP #3: TALK ABOUT YOUR LAND!

 

Another way to interest the reader is to talk about what is special about the farm itself. Perhaps it is the history of the land, the view, the products that your farm specializes in, the innovative projects you’ve started, or something else entirely. Take Shady Grove Farm UP in Michigan for example. They recently had to fight a local zoning ordinance that would ban farming by deploying the Michigan right to farm statute.

Click here to read the story.

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 Download the extended PDF version of this lesson for even more tips and examples!

 

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TIP #4: POINT TO YOUR STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS

 

Is your farm in some way connected to a personal struggle or triumph that you've experienced? 180 Degree Farm is the perfect example of how a difficult family struggle laid the foundation for the farm's existence.

Click here to read the story.

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TIP #5: YOUR PRACTICES ARE UNIQUE!

 

Don’t forget to talk about how you manage your farm or apiary using natural practices and why you’ve chosen to do so. Check out this article about Summer Smiles Honey Farm in which they talk about their bee-keeping practices. 
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TIP #6: YOUR CNG CERTIFICATION IS NEWS!

 

CNG is growing more every year and gaining a lot of great press. Use this publicity to your advantage and describe what being #cngproud means and why you decided to join.

Take a look at this piece about Russell Sprouts as a great example.

A quote from the article: ""We are passionate about growing healthy food for our community," says Russell, "and we are proud to have our efforts recognized by Certified Naturally Grown." She continues to explain that the grassroots certification aligns with her mission to grow food the community can trust, and it supports her commitment in helping to create a sustainable community."


Click here to read the story.

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 Download the extended PDF version of this lesson for even more tips and examples!

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Have you had a news piece published in a local paper lately?
Tell us in the comments section below!