The press release is by no means the only way of getting media coverage for a business, but it is an extremely useful one and one that is perhaps the most effective.
I am often asked the same questions about writing a press release. How long should it be? What information should it include? Shall I send an image?
Believe it or not, it is not ‘easy’ to write a good press release and many organisations do not follow simple rules when writing one and therefore wonder why their story, did not receive any attention.
Here are a few helpful hints and tips to help you get the very best out of your press release.
However, before you start, ask yourself: ‘is this newsworthy?’ Your audience will most likely be most interested in finding out something new from you or your business, or wants information to answer a question they have, so before you start ask:
- Is there anything new here?
- Is there anything unexpected or that has the ‘wow’ factor?
- Is there a human interest angle? What’s the inspiration?
- Would I talk about this to my friends and family?
If the answer is yes, then read on….
The headline needs to grab the journalist’s attention. Don’t worry about being too clever or including a funny pun – it needs to be concise and to the point but interesting enough that they will want to read it.
Top lines go at the top
Once the journalist has opened the release, the top lines need to keep their attention. Journalists tend to look for the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’. The first line should sum up your story in 15 to 20 words. And then the key information should follow in the next two paragraphs.
If you need inspiration look at the newspaper and read the opening three paragraphs of a story – all the information will be there. A journalist does this because if their story needs to be cut down to fit a specific space, an editor will cut it from the bottom upwards. Make sure your press release does the same – top lines go at the top.
A quote of insight
A quote from your organisation should be included. As well as the key information, a journalist will want to hear from a real person. However, the quote should offer insight into the piece, it should regurgitate what the release has already said. They should also be written as if someone has said it and not include jargon.
Your release needs to be concise and to the point. Generally, a release should be one side of A4 paper. If yours is longer than that, then do not panic, but make sure the release is tightly written, does not waffle and the information included is important to the overall story.
Other things consider:
Email – If you do not have access to a press release distribution service, then use email to send your release out. Copy the text into the body of the email. Do not attach it as a word or pdf document. And make sure you write press release or story idea in the subject bar, followed by the headline. You can attach any photos to the email.
Notes to Editors – this is the section at the end of the release, which can contain background information about your company (sometimes called a Boiler Plate). This section should also contain links to any web pages you want to alert the journalist to and your company’s website and social media channels.
Interviews – a journalist may want to do an interview with you to find out more about the story. This should be welcomed so include the fact that you’re happy to do interviews in the Notes to Editors section.
Contact details – Include your press officer’s contact details or your details, if you’re happy for a journalist to have them.
Follow up – once you sent out the release, it is OK to follow up with the reporter. However, do not do this 5 minutes after you’ve sent it, a journalist is busy and will receive hundreds of emails a day. Give it a bit of time and be polite but persistent.
It goes without saying that every press release is different, depending on the story or industry you are in. However, the above guide should help you form a release which will result in media coverage for your story.
If you need help with your release, get in touch and we can chat things through.