How to write a press release that journalists will use
It may sound obvious, but the most important rule when writing a press release is that it needs to contain NEWS!
News is what we see on TV, read about in newspapers and hear on the radio – it isn’t what you or your boss think it should be.
To get your story published in the media, you need to write front page news. Send journalists front page news regularly and they will pay attention to you. Waste their time with promotional fluff and they won’t return your calls.
What kind of stories will make journalists sit up and pay attention?
- Maybe you’re about to launch a revolutionary new product that could change people’s lives forever
- Perhaps you’ve won an award that represents a significant achievement for your business
- Or you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary serving the local community
- Maybe you’ve run a marathon and raised loads of money for charity
It’s these types of stories that journalists would love to hear about, but the only way you’ll get their attention is if you proactively send them your story and follow up with a phone call to see if it’s of any interest. Do this and you could be on your way to getting some free publicity.
There’s always a demand for new information and angles for news stories.
All media outlets, whether it’s your local newspaper or industry magazine regularly scour press releases to find information to report on. After all they have pages to fill and need to get the right balance between editorial and advertising.
And because the editor reporting on your press release is considered impartial, your story gains extra credibility that paid advertising simply doesn’t get.
Another benefit is that writing and distributing a press release is good for your marketing budget, all it costs is your time.
How can you not invest in a low cost activity that could bring high returns for your business? Increase visibility? Gain credibility? Maybe get more sales?
Don’t be shy. Poke around your business, charity or NFP to see if you’ve got a gem of a story to shout about.
The following checklist will show you how to write a press release and is a handy reference to keep you on track:-
1. Only include information in your press release that journalists will regard as news.
- is the story of interest to readers unconnected with my client? and/or
- does it affect the lives of the target media’s audiences? and/or
- does it have a local angle? and most importantly,
- does it read/sound like the sort of news I see in newspapers and see/hear on the TV and radio?
2. Make sure that the press release is not only news, but also delivers key messages to your target audience
3. Write an attention grabbing introduction. Check you have put the most newsworthy messages into the first couple of sentences.
4. Use short simple words and sentences journalists would use to make it easier for them to pick up on key messages
5. Write the press release on A4 paper, double-spaced, no longer than two pages. Include all contact details and a date the release was distributed, stating whether it is for immediate release or include an embargo date and time.
If you would like more information on how to write a press release, send me a message on the Contact page.