- Writing a press release to a publication about massive events regarding your company or any major news related to it is very important.
- But in order to write a press release that is actually worth being published (in the eyes of journalists and media publications at least), you need to be aware of some subtleties.
- Here is your number one guide that will help you write press releases no publication can say no to!
There is an art to writing press releases. Some people make the mistake of writing brand promos and sales pieces that make a journo’s eyes roll the minute they read the headline. Others keep them so stale that a journo has clicked the trash button on the email before they have even finished the second paragraph.
Although, there is no exact science to writing a great press release (or at least one that a journalist will read to completion), the key is that your ‘presser’ has the right balance between being engaging and informative.
Here is a foolproof checklist you can employ next time you sit down to write a kick-ass press release!
1. Make it newsworthy
A journalist is looking for something topical and interesting that is going to prove valuable to their readers. Ask yourself, why would these readers want to know what is in your press release? Am I giving them something that is going to interest, educate, inform or entertain them? This is vital!
Examples of newsworthy press release topics include:
- A fundraiser/donation/sponsorship,
- Response to current social trending topics,
- Business expansions/re-developments,
- A big event, anniversary or recognition (award),
- CEO or company announcements or recent activity announcement that effect different stakeholder groups (industry specific news),
- Client profiles - especially if they are doing something that would be seen as insightful or important for the readers,
- Case studies, where you have worked on a successful project that provides valuable insights on cost savings, improvements for your clients, things that readers of the publication will find useful.
2. Is it publish-ready?
Journalists are busy people. They work on very tight deadlines and generally have multiple stories in the works at any one time. Add to this, they usually are inundated with hundreds of press releases a day (and I mean literally hundreds), especially if they are a big publication.
Therefore, if you can make their job easier by providing them with a ready-to-publish story, you’re not only going to drastically improve your chances of getting your press release picked up and run, but leave a positive impression on the journalist.
Also, while making your pitch slim on your name mentions (i.e. brand or key spokesperson’s) and in a style that is ‘journalistic,’ the editor has little to do to run it, making the turnaround rate from pitched to published easy and quick. This can also enhance your chances of being their first point of contact when they have a story and need an expert quote or commentary in the future.
Consider the trending topics covered in the publication. Some publications have a features list, so by knowing this you can tailor your article angle and pitch on something that is top of mind for them at the time. Other times, a publication will not have a features list. In such cases, it is important to know what the needs of the readers are as this is always the consideration of the publisher.
For instance, you could look over some back issues and identify some key topics or visit the magazine’s website to provide you with insight into the things that matter to their audience.
3. Informative engaging headline
A short, sharp and informative headline is the first thing your journalist reads. It is important to take some time in developing a captivating headline. If it is bad, it might be the only thing they read.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve even had a chance to plead your case.
Headlines tell you a lot about a story and work to captivate your audience. If your journo isn’t captivated, chances are their readers won’t be either. We are, by nature, skim readers – so headlines are paramount to the success of your pitch.
Below are key things to consider when writing your headline to entice the reader to read your first sentence!
- Should be unique with your core message standing out,
- Must be ultra-specific, your goal is to make them think its worth their while reading on,
- Must convey a sense of urgency, create a feeling of miss-out,
- Should be useful, your goal is to communicate the benefit they will get from reading on.
4. Keep it short
Succinct writing is good writing. There is no reason that your press release should be pushing more than two pages. If it’s longer than that, it’s not a press release, it’s a book chapter! On average, a press release is between 400 to 800 words.
5. Strong quotes
Your quotes should be the backbone of your presser. Without them, the information has no leg to stand on. Ideally, you should use someone who is considered “authority” to quote. E.g. a CEO, a researcher or academic expert, etc. Ensure your expert/speaker is:
- providing good content.
6. Tell a story
As any good PR student has ever been told, the most important piece of journalistic writing gives you the 5 w’s in one sentence: who, what when, where and why. Yet, more often that not, they don’t teach you how to creatively flavour your writing to find the balance that will allow you to captivate and inform your readers simultaneously. In this case, practice makes perfect so the key is to just start.
These are just a few key points to consider when writing a press release that can help you avoid the most common mistakes people make.
Writing releases that get the attention of journalists is an art in itself and requires practice and experience in order to position the story to potential media.
If you are seeking to lift your profile and awareness and looking for ways to capitalise on your work without direct advertising, then Public Relations is an activity you should add to your marketing plan in 2018.