Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Free “How to Write a Press Release” workshop offered in June

Local journalist Lesley Ann Beck will lead a free seminar in crafting effective materials for communicating with the media

“How to Write a Press Release,” a workshop led by local journalist Lesley Ann Beck, will be given at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, June 2. A well-written press release is essential for any business, organization, or individual wishing to generate publicity, whether in print or online. Fortunately, crafting an effective press release is achievable simply by following some basic, time-tested rules.

“How to Write a Press Release” is a workshop led by local journalist Lesley Ann Beck, held at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts at 28 Renne Avenue in downtown Pittsfield. The event is open to the public, free of charge, and will last 90 minutes and include time for questions. Megan Whilden, Pittsfield's  Director of Cultural Development, will be the moderator.

The workshop will cover style, organization, format, and structure, including tips on writing strong headlines and good leads. Making important decisions on content and timing will also be covered, as will attachments, photographs, design elements, and length.

The workshop will be useful for anyone who needs to generate publicity in the media, whether a small business owner, leader of a local nonprofit organization, an independent artist or performer, or even the representative for a religious institution or community action effort.

The workshop leader, Lesley Ann Beck, now the editor of, has more than twenty-five years of experience as a journalist, most recently as managing editor of Berkshire Living magazine and editor of BBQ: Berkshire Business Quarterly. Before joining Berkshire Living, she was the editor of the Berkshires Week section in the Berkshire Eagle for nine years.  Moderator Megan Whilden was the editor of Artful Mind magazine, a columnist for the Berkshire Eagle and a freelance writer for the Boston Globe and other publications before becoming the City of Pittsfield's first Director of Cultural Development in 2005.

Examples of successful press releases will be available, and a handout covering the seminar topics and much more will be shared.

Please email or call 413.499.9348 to reserve a space; seating is limited.

We Are Pittsfield! Share your story

There are thousands of stories in a community two hundred and fifty years old, and the City of Pittsfield aims to collect as many as possible this year through an oral history project called We Are Pittsfield. The We Are Pittsfield project is designed to capture & retell Pittsfield’s past and present for future generations, told by those who live in, visit, and love the city. We Are Pittsfield will create an archive of stories and memories about Pittsfield on a dedicated website, located at, as well as being stored at the Berkshire Athenaeum’s Local History Room.

"I can't think of a better way to celebrate our city than through the shared memories of our community members,” says Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.  “The stories we collect through We Are Pittsfield will provide future generations with an extraordinary window into the beloved people and places of Pittsfield."

The We Are Pittsfield oral history project is funded through a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, and is part of the Pittsfield Panorama project, using arts and culture to celebrate Pittsfield 250th anniversary in 2011. The city of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development is providing staff support.

Andy Kelly and Sue Kelly are co-chairs and co-founders of We Are Pittsfield. "We were inspired by other communities that have organized oral history projects and felt that this was the perfect time to do it in Pittsfield, as we celebrate our 250th anniversary,” says Andy Kelly. “As a Pittsfield native, I know there are so many great stories out there, and we want to share them!" Sue Kelly adds, "It's important to us that all voice be heard, including youth, immigrants, and elders, in order to provide the fullest and most accurate portrait of our city."

Pittsfield residents and neighbors can share their stories and memories about Pittsfield either in written form or by nominating themselves or someone else to be interviewed on camera. You can submit a written account of your Pittsfield memory, short or long, on the We Are Pittsfield website. With your permission, the story will be posted on the website, and can also remain anonymous. In addition, you can, via the website, phone, or by letter, nominate yourself or someone you know to be interviewed on camera.

We Are Pittsfield is looking for a wide range of stories: from personal accounts of historical events to familial tales passed from one generation to the next; from stories of struggles and victories to fun recollections of memorable days and nights in Pittsfield. Storytellers do not have to live in Pittsfield, but the story must involve the city. The videos will range from short, one- to two-minute clips, to lengthier, more researched stories about Pittsfield’s past.

Inviting YOU to submit your stories to We Are Pittsfield! from We Are Pittsfield on Vimeo.

Project Manager and AmeriCorps VISTA Jennibeth Gomez will provide much of the technical production work, from filming to editing, with help from volunteers and Pittsfield Community Television. The oral history videos will be shown on PCTV, available for viewing on the website, and will be archived at the Berkshire Athenaeum. 

Volunteers to help with the video recording and interviewing of Pittsfield residents are welcomed and encouraged. A free video production class for prospective We Are Pittsfield volunteers will be held Monday, June 6 at 5pm at Pittsfield Community Television studios, located at 4 Federico Drive in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Space is limited, reserve yours by contacting Jennibeth Gomez at or 413.499.9348.

For more information please contact:
Jennibeth Gomez, We Are Pittsfield Project Manager