Some tips on writing Redactor announcements

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Especially if you’re not used to it, writing a brief but informative announcement for publication can be tricky. So here are a few tips:

What should be included?
The traditional “five Ws+H” are a good basis for what to include in your announcement:
Who: Who is invited? Who is hosting it? Who is submitting the announcement (if the announcement is not directly seminary-related)?
What: What is the event? What will happen?
Where: Where will your event take place? If on campus, just a building and room number should be enough. If off campus, an address can be helpful.
When: When is the event? If there’s a registration deadline, when is that? Give a day, date and location (the editor might shorten this, but this information is helpful for the editor).
Why: Why are you holding the event? Why should the reader care?
How: How can a reader learn more or contact someone in charge?

What should not be included?
Opinions: It’s one thing to run an announcement “A rally in support of welfare programs will be held Thursday.” It’s another to say “With millions in poverty, our state needs better welfare. To get this point across to our legislators, a rally will be held Thursday.” The Redactor seeks to remain viewpoint-neutral. So let your event raise awareness or support for your cause, not the announcement.
Insults, obscene or profane language: We’re at a seminary, and the Redactor is seen by many people of all ages; decorum is always good.
Other items mentioned in the “Editorial guidelines:” Click here for more.

How should I write the announcement?
In general, you should put the most important information first, followed by less important information, with the least important at the end. Redactor readers typically have a fairly short attention-span – they might just be glancing at the newsletter on the way to class or during a break, and lose interest after a few words. So, rather than saying “The LTSG Aardvark Appreciation Society is happy to invite everyone to Aardvarkfest on Tuesday at 9pm in Schmucker House,” it may be better to say “Aardvarkfest, an evening of aardvark-themed games and lectures, will be held Tuesday at 9pm in Schmucker House. The event is sponsored by the LTSG Aardvark Appreciation Society.” People likely care more about the event more than the group sponsoring it. Also, note here that the passive voice can be OK – unlike what you might have learned in English class, grammar should serve clarity, not the other way around. (But grammar is still important, of course!)

But, can't I be more creative?
While simply giving information is often the best way to announce your event, a more creative beginning can be interesting, so long as it is relatively brief and gets to the information quickly. So, perhaps you could run something such as: “What do Aardvarks have in common with Martin Luther? Come and find out at Aardvarkfest, Thursday at 9pm…”

How long should it be?
Strunk and White’s famous instruction from The Elements of Style is applicable here: “Omit needless words.” A good announcement should generally be no more than two or three sentences. Again, readers have short attention spans. If you want to give more information, it can be best to refer readers to a website or a pamphlet somewhere on campus.

When should I run an announcement? And can I run several?
There tend to be two kinds of readers: early-planners and late-planners. Ideally, then, you might want to run at least two announcements: one after the event is planned, to let people know about an event, and one the week of the event, to remind people of it. When writing a follow-up announcement – or if writing a repeated announcement (say, for a weekly event) – it’s good to start each announcement differently, so people don’t think it’s the same thing and ignore it. So, if your first announcement said “Aardvarkfest will be June 14 at 9pm,” the follow-up might say, “Make sure you get your registration for Aardvarkfest in this week!”

What else should I know?
• Make sure the contact person you list knows that he or she is the contact person.
• Make sure you get a room reservation before announcing the event.
• Let the editor know when you’d like the announcement to run and for how long (in general, announcements won’t run longer than a week).
• If you want a repeated announcement, it's often most considerate to the editor to re-submit your announcement, rather than asking the editor to save it and remember to put it back in (this is especially true, considering that, with our website, we can no longer schedule announcements in advance).
• Get your announcement in as early as possible, so the editor can get in touch if there are any concerns.
• The best way to submit your announcement is by e-mailing The Redactor also has a mailbox in the mailroom.
• It often helps you make sure the information you want is included, and helps save the editor time and energy, if you write your own announcement, rather than simply submitting a website or pamphlet and asking the editor to write an announcement based on that. The editor is willing to do this, of course, but you lose control over what is published.
• Don't be afraid! This can be a good way to become familiar with writing for future newsletters, news releases and other communications!

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