I thought some of you may find it helpful if I gave you some tips on how to write a successful press release. It won’t guarantee you the splash you are after but it will help you maximise your potential
1. Research – write to the style of the publication and understand its audience. Tabloid newspapers reach out to a certain demographic audience so don’t assume they are going to be interested in a technical press release. Likewise, a trade publication will expect its readers to possess a certain level of knowledge. Study and get comfortable with the style used by the publications you want to target because that’s how they want to receive information from you. Also remember, space is at a premium as it will be competing against advertising. Therefore keep your copy concise and to the point. Capture the essence of your press release in the first paragraph and explain – Who, What, When, Where and Why.
2. Hooks – create a hook that will catch the journalist’s attention. Remember, they may not be interested in the publication of your annual report or business plan so find a hook that may make it more interesting. Is your company expanding? How many people have had their lives improved this last year? Does it include plans to create more jobs or redesign a service?
3. Start as you mean to go on – make the most interesting sentence the first one. The first sentence is known as the lead. This is the one thing journalists look at to determine if they will read further or chuck it in the bin. It’s best to state something newsworthy or explain the significance of what you’re announcing that will mean something to the audience of that particular media outlet.
4. Top and tail your release so that the journalist knows how old it is and when it can be used. If it is embargoed make sure you mention that although make sure you have a valid reason for embargoing it in the first place. If you have background information that you think the journalist may use to pad out their story place that at the end of the press release under a notes to editor section. Make sure you put a contact name and number at the end of the release and that this person is able to answer any questions they receive from a journalist.
5. Don’t assume the audience is as obsessed with your organisation as you are. One of the most common mistakes is for press releases to become nothing more than adverts for the company. Journalists have their professional integrity to think of so don’t assume that the more you repeat your organisation’s name the more it will be published. In fact, the reverse is most likely to be the case. Stick to concentrating on the tips above and your organisation will get the mentions you crave.