Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Write a Garden Announcement for the Press

As spring arrives, so does the annual flood of garden event announcement that garden groups would like publicized on the radio and in newspapers.

Computers and the Internet have created a generation of do-it-yourself graphic artists. Although these may be effective as bulletin board posters or nice art for your own website, those of us in the press have a need for information, plain and simple. No fancy formatting, just solid info in the body of your press release e-mail. Yes, you can attach your fancy press release as a .doc or .pdf to the e-mail. But the basic information should be in the body of the e-mail as plain text.

This post originally appeared two years ago here; it's time for a refresher course on how you can make our jobs easier, thus increasing the chances of your message getting out to our audiences.

When? Who? What? Where? Why? How?

How to Write a Public Service Announcement Aimed at those with Attention Deficit Disorder (which includes anyone in Journalism or Broadcasting).

This rant is aimed at those of you who are attempting to get publicity for your garden events. You know who you are. You're probably a volunteer for your garden club or organization. God bless you.

As a guy who enjoys reading announcements for upcoming gardening events on the radio and likes to cut and paste them on my website, here's some advice: keep it short. By the way, newspapers like short announcements, too.

Here are a couple examples from my e-mail box. 

First, the good:

Sunday, April 29, 1-3 p.m. Free
Arboretum Nature Discovery Drop-in
Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road, UC Davis
Got nature? Naturalists of all ages are invited to visit the UC Davis Arboretum for a special chance to explore, observe, investigate, and enjoy hands-on activities. Who knows what plant and animal treasures you'll discover when you drop by!  All ages welcome.  The Wyatt Deck is located on Old Davis Road next to the redwood grove in the UC Davis Arboretum. Free parking is available in Visitor Lot 5, at Old Davis Road and A Street. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit


Second, the ugly (from 2010):
"Master Gardeners to Host Annual Spring Plant Sale

Spring is bustin’ out all over! – And the (county deleted) Master Gardeners are celebrating this grand event by hosting their annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday May 8 2010. The sale runs from 9 a.m. until 12 noon at the Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden located at (address deleted). Cash and checks are accepted for payment.

A host of plants of various species and sizes will be offered including shrubs, ornamentals, vegetables, fruits, berries, annuals, and perennials.

All plants offered for sale have been propagated locally. There are numerous advantages in buying locally propagated plants including:

• less stress on the plant caused by traveling long distances from a commercial grower to market

• superior quality control because each plant was tended by a single individual during its propagation period

• Assurance that all plants were grown organically

Additionally, many of the plants offered for sale are native varieties. Not all non-native plants are bad, but many are considered to be invasive. Inclusion of numerous native plants in your garden and landscape generally provide the following benefits:

• Use less water

• Require less maintenance

• Reduce the need for pesticides

• Provide wildlife habitat

• Support local ecology

The (county deleted) County Master Gardeners are a non-profit, 501c3 group of trained volunteers, operating under the aegis of the University of California. Their mission is to:

• educate the public about sustainable organic gardening practices and  principles.

• provide consultative services to the general public regarding plant, insect, and pest identification.

• provide guidance for sensible, sound pest management and weed eradication practices.

All proceeds of this plant sale - as well as the fall plant sale, support the numerous activities of the Master Gardener program.

You’ll want to make this a must attend event on your calendar.

We look forward to meeting you and discussing gardening related issues. Local Master Gardeners will be on site to assist you with plant selection as well as to answer any questions you might have.

We hope to see you on Saturday May 8. We’ll set aside some
plants for you." 

Excuse me for a minute, while I get the Visine.
In the do-it-in-a-hurry world of journalism, the easier you make it for those on the receiving end, the better the chance you'll get positive results. I'm willing to give you 15-30 seconds on the radio (about the length of that first example). Newspapers will limit you to one column inch. Or less.

And you can make it easy for editors, broadcasters and website managers by structuring your public service announcement using the journalistically famous "Five W's and the H", in this order:

For example:
When? Sunday, April 29, 1-3 p.m.
What? Arboretum Nature Discovery Drop-in
Where? Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road, UC Davis
Who and Why? Naturalists of all ages are invited to visit the UC Davis Arboretum for a special chance to explore, observe, investigate, and enjoy hands-on activities. Who knows what plant and animal treasures you'll discover when you drop by!  All ages welcome.
How? For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit
Cost? Free

There. Simple. Less than one page. Easy for us, good for you. Thanks, in advance. Please pass this information on to anyone you know who is doing the publicity for a garden club or organization.

Oh, and if you are a for-profit company: buy an ad. Thanks again.


  1. Great advice, Fred! It's most appreciated. Remember to include "how much" -- even if it's free, mention that. (Free is a wonderful price point.) Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for this, Farmer Fred! I'm a newly "elected" (i.e., "leaned on to do my bit") official of a worthy non-profit, just about to launch into my first efforts in promoting garden events. I especially liked your examples - I really get it!