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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Open Educational Resources Promotions Guide: Press Releases

OER Promotions Guide by Janet Swatscheno as part of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program

Reporters, even at small local newspapers, get hundreds of press releases each day. There is no guarantee that a press release about an open resource will be covered by newspapers, but there are ways to make press releases more effective.

Information to include in a press release

  • Contact Information of librarian, library communications person, and/or author
  • Headline
  • Book or Resource Title
  • Author
  • Publishing Date
  • ISBNs, DOIs, permanent URLs, or other identifiers if applicable
  • Links to digital copy and links to places to buy a physical copy if available
  • Book Description
  • Publisher information
  • Author bio
  • Publisher logos
  • Quotes from the author, students, reviewers, etc.

How not to pitch your story

  • You don’t cover this subject? Can you forward it to the person who does?
  • You’ll be sorry if you don’t write this story.
  • If you don’t cover this, (your competition) will!
  • I already pitched this to The Wall Street Journal, but they said no.
  • Since you didn’t cover us after our last meeting, you really owe us this time.

Warren, John. “How not to pitch your story”. Library Publishing Curriculum: Impact Module. Feb. 2018. Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Press Release Template

General Press Release Tips

  • Consider newsworthiness and timeliness. Highlight the most newsworthy aspect of the publication. Is the author of the textbook a noteworthy person on your campus? Was the resource recently published or used for the first time in a large course?
  • Be concise. The most salient information belongs in the first few sentences of the press release.
  • Be factual. Avoid using extraneous adjectives and adverbs to describe the open resource. It is ok to state, “Concepts of Ecology is the first openly available textbook designed for an introduction to ecology course” but it is not ok to state “Brilliantly written, Concepts of Ecology is the first openly available textbook in the field”.
  • Include quotes from authors, students, or others involved in creating the OER. News publications are much more likely to report on stories that have a human connection. Authors can speak to why they were compelled to create an open resource, students can describe the impact of having a free textbook, and librarians can talk about broader efforts to support faculty creating and using OER.
  • If possible, include data and metrics. Include statements like, “Professor White’s new textbook is estimated to save her students $2,000 per semester” or “Concepts of Ecology was downloaded 5,000 times this semester.”
  • Research the publication and the journalist. Many news outlets have web pages with advice on how to pitch them a story. For example, The Chronicle of Higher Education has a How to Pitch Us page that explains the types of stories they are interested in writing about and how to communicate with their journalists.

Example Press Releases

Examples of news articles about OER and open textbook launches