A press release, also known as a news release or media release, is an official written communication that is sent to members of the media, journalists, bloggers, and other relevant parties to announce newsworthy information. It’s an important and factual document used by businesses, organisations, government agencies, and individuals to share important announcements, events, or developments with the public and the media.
But how do you go about writing a compelling press release? Below are some top tips that will help you when you pen your perfect pitch. Although it may appear 101, a strong release will help you stand out from the crowd and work towards capturing strong editorial attention.
Section I – Starting
News > Story
Make a story out of a news, not a news out of a story. Afterall, news is a story that people want to read. The more your story has characteristics of a news, the wider your audience will be.
T – topical: What makes it different from previous stories? Is it happening now? Can it be on the public agenda?
R – revelant: Will the public relate with the news? Can it catch the attention of the public by a majority?
U – unusual: Be unique. Be surprising. Be unexpected.
T – trouble: For journalists, bad news is good news. Take note, cautions must be evaluated before delivering.
H – human interest: Will the public be impacted directly? News that is most likely to get a hit of the majority always wins.
Your story must attract the attention of a specialist, before the public. Be sure that news correlates to targeted audiences and can be easily explained and understood in lay terms.
Quality > Coverage
Although unfortunately there are no guarantees that your press release will get the attention, maintaining quality news will build up your credibility. Additionally, quality works are more likely to get loyal attention in the long run.
Section II – Writing Process
Although there is no specified set of rules to write a press release, there are features that could heighten the character of your press release.
It’s important information provided is accurate, informative and clear. Focus on the key points that will resonate and relate with your target audience and the media.
Your headline should be concise, attention-grabbing and thought provoking which works to pique the interest of readers.
The aim is to keep the reader updated, informed, and engaged. Follow the inverted pyramid method of starting with the main message and crucial information, then descending to additional details and extra background information.
Quotes will help to personalise the press release and provide authority, expert advice and lend authority. What’s more, quotes work to increase credibility and provide insight and additional context.
It’s important to include contact details including emails and phone numbers at the end so that journalists can find you when required.
Section III – Wrapping Up
Once the press release has been pitched, remember to proactively engage by sending a follow-up email, without overwhelming your media channels.
- Avoid including numerous email attachments as they can lead to your email ending up in the spam folder.
- Thoroughly review your press release for grammatical errors, typos, and clarity. Ensure that the information is accurate and consistent.
Here are some more tricks to consider for an additional extra sprinkle for your press release.
Question yourself – why would the public be interested in this? How do I make the public be interested in the story? What story angle am I aiming for? What’s the brand image that is catching the attention of the public?
Be the Journalist
Think from the journalist’s point of view. To do so, you’ll have to dig into previous works from the journalist and get a taste of what kind of news story they’re attracted to – keep in mind, this works only for specific journalists you’d want to keep focus on as it’s impossible to really get to know each one of the hundreds journalists!
Remember that you are writing to the public – people who may not know the specific of the related industry. Cut to the chase. Be specific. Get simple with words. Avoid using an academic tone or complex words. It’s a story you’d want to talk about over a cup of coffee, not in class.
Read your press release and decide which words you’d like to put focus to. Here’s when you’ll need to rule your words into: bold (most important) or bold & italic (not so important) or italic (important). By doing this, you automatically put pressure on highlighted words.
Second Pair of Eyes
Get another person to read your release and get their feedback. Having another pair of eyes for a read through is always more of an advantage than disadvantage!
Remember, the goal is not to just simply share the news. It serves as a powerful tool for businesses, brands, and individuals to effectively relay their message to a wider audience and gain the attention of the media and the public. Ultimately, it acts to generate positive publicity, raise awareness, and build credibility.