Are your press releases worth the effort?

Public relations

The main reason a press release (PR) is produced is strictly for a newsworthy dissemination. This is the first thing you should remember and remember hard. This is because all too often PRs produced even though newsworthy, it is presented in the wrong way and this can be highly detrimental for your company. You would want to present your news across to the editors and journalists so that they would publish your PR. Therefore, you are submitted to the will of the editor and journalist until you do something right. Whatever you place in the PR is for the interest of them. What are they interested in? They are interested in pleasing their audience and readers.

How to satisfy these editors and journalists? Think like you’re a reporter receiving the raw news from your own company eg. AnimalShelter. Your company has discovered that there is a steep rise in abandoned animals due to the negligence of teenage owners. Now, you’re in charge of producing a PR. Using a reporter’s perspective, I have no interest in promoting AnimalShelter as it adds no value to me. In other words, stay objective and impersonal. Write out the PR and send it through. I strongly advice against contacting the publications to ask whether they received your PR because editors are really time-constraint and have no time to entertain one of the hundreds PRs they receive in a day. That’s why it is so important to create a straightforward, puffery-free PR with an eye-catching heading. Imagine editors as really hungry hard-to-capture animals (no intent of degrading). What they really want is a nice juicy chunk of meat. Throw them a great PR and they will fight to get your story published.

Back to AnimalShelter, you must be asking; “How do I write a good press release?” First of all, you must have a strong title. The stronger the title, the bigger and chunkier the piece of meat going to be. When thinking of a title, avoid lengthy words and bush-beating. Go straight for the kill and lay-down a good overview of your story concisely. For example, instead of “AnimalShelter has discovered, after substantive research, the reason why there is a steep increase in abandoned animals”; try something like “Abandoned animals rise due to negligent teens”. Then, the subhead has to be equally important as the header. Often overlooked by writers, subhead gives an opportunity to flash your angle on the story. A subhead can sound something like “Gen-Y; a more careless generation towards animals but hates to admit to it”. Moving on, your thesis statement has to be factual and straight to the point. Leave out your ego and save your flaunting skills for another time. State what has to be given to editors. An easy way to figure this out is to answer the Wh-questions; who, what, when, when, where, why and how. The company details are also important because people want to know what the company does and it gives the editors an easier task by not having to research on the parties involved. Next, the body of the PR has to state the specific details of the news like numbers and specific people. In conjunction with mentioning specific people, adding quotes will further enhance your PR. Plus; quotes are great because it’s something that editors have minimal editing power to. Add contact details of yourself or if you’re comfortable enough, you can add the details of the source. This is done because if the editor likes your story, he or she has to want more information from you. It is good practice to add in a link for an online copy of your PR.

Press release example

Other points to be aware of are:

  • Don’t give away all the details - You want a hook and meat good enough to bring the editors in, and then you’ll give the killing blow.
  • Write from a journalist’s perspective - Do not use “I” or “we”
  • Have little to no slang words - Some slang might be very normal and understandable by you but editors reading your PR might not even be a local in your country.
  • Keep hyped-up punctuations minimal - It’s a PR not a tabloid magazine.
  • Follow up immediately with your press kit (images and news releases) when contacted
  • Call them back after sending in your press kit to make sure they received it - This is different from calling them when you send your PR because the editor has already bit into your hook.

Lastly, add in “###” directly below the last line of your PR. It is to show that it’s the end of your PR. I know that there’s a lot of take in but I’m sure when you get into the flow of things, PR writing will only get easier.

###


Han Teng

Ever heard of the story of the rice crop? The older and riper it gets, the more it bends downwards. Living by this principle I believe that life is a never-ending learning process and the more I learn the more I'm humbled by it. Keeping my nose low and helping others are my priorities. I'm no successful entrepreneur nor an excellent sportsman. However, I do aspire to reach for the stars and when I do; it is of utmost importance to be grateful to everyone around me.


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Eric Phuah

Eric Phuah , Director at Hystericalz Pty Ltd

Thanks Han. I'm in the process of writing to journalists so this article is really helpful! Hopefully they get drawn in to my story.