Journalists get hundreds of press releases every day so you need to make sure yours stands out from the crowd. The key is to write a story that doesn’t get sent straight to the trash bin and doesn’t result in you being put on that journalist’s junk mail list. Read on to find out how.
What is a press release?
A press release is a standardised way of communicating with journalists. It should tell them what the story is at a glance, making their job easier and making it more likely that they will use your press release.
Why do you need one?
A press release is a great way to increase awareness of your business and your brand.
You could pay for advertising and sell to customers or you could use a press release to encourage a journalist to write about your business for you. As we all know, a testimonial is 10 times better than blowing your own trumpet. And this is the same thing. If your press release gets picked up, you get free coverage in that publication and a third-party recommendation for your business. It’s like free advertising, but better – that’s PR.
So you know what a press release is and what it does for your business, now you need to know how to write one.
Writing an effective press release
A press release has to be newsworthy. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the journalist and their readers.
This means you need to understand your potential clients or customers and think about the kind of publications they read. Start small. Don’t expect to hit the broadsheets with one press release. Instead, target regional press or your trade press and build a reputation from there.
Look at the news stories in your target media and think about and how you can create a media opportunity like that for your business.
But What is News?
• News has to be new – don’t write about something that happened yesterday.
• Human interest – if your product or service saved a local family from certain death, you’ve got yourself one hot press release.
• Controversial or surprising – maybe you have some shocking survey figures or research.
• Funny – does what it says on the tin.
• Celebrities – whether it’s the local mayor coming to your event or Katie Price saying she couldn’t live without your product, celebrities give your story clout.
• Local interest – if your business is involved in the community or a local event, then your regional press may want to know.
How to write a press release:
• You need a headline – keep it short and to the point.
• Use your subheading to expand on the headline and hook the journalist. Put your key message in here.
• First paragraph – this should contain the what, when, why, who and how. This is the most important point of your release. Make it count and the journalist will read on.
• Paragraph two – expand on the what, but don’t add filler or puff for the sake of it. Journalists can spot puff a mile off and we don’t like it.
• Include a quote from someone relevant – no sales language, just a solid quote to support the lead message in the intro.
• Don’t save the best until last. Copy gets cut from the bottom up, so put your key messages upfront.
•Do include top tips or a box with survey figures etc. – a journalist will often just copy and paste this into their story.
• Do put the date on your release.
• Add contact information, including email, telephone and the name of preferably two people, so that when the journalist calls, someone answers.
• Offer images and interview opportunities for the person quoted in the release.
• Do include your url and add hotlinks within the text.
• Always copy and paste press releases into an email AND attach it.
• Make sure your email subject isn’t Press Release – make it something interesting they will want to open, rather than just delete.
Once it’s written
• Check it for spelling and grammar. Check the telephone number, email and website addresses are correct.
• Then go away and have a coffee. Come back and check it again.
• Then email it to your target press.
Need some help writing your next press release? Contact Chella on 01823 284 535.