Journalists are busy people.
They receive literally hundreds of press releases a day – so as you can imagine, the ‘delete’ key on a journalist’s computer gets a serious workout.
To prevent your press release from landing in the trash, it needs to be compelling.
Here are four tips for writing a press release that gets results.
An irresistible headline
Yours might be the most exciting news story of the day, but if your headline isn’t attention-grabbing, it’s not going to be news at all.
When writing a press release, your headline should clearly communicate what the story is (news value) and why the reader should care (relevance).
Don’t try to get tricky about it, as tempting as it is. If your headline is too cryptic, you risk losing people before they even open your email.
Overly cryptic headlines are, to put it bluntly, annoying. Journalists simply don’t have time to figure out your riddle. Make it easy for them by being direct.
There are plenty of websites out there offering tips on how to write great headlines, so read up and get to it.
Make sure it’s actually news
News is called ‘news’ because it’s information that is new and hasn’t been shared before.
It’s no good announcing something that happened two weeks ago. That’s not news.
Your release must be timely. If you are talking about an issue that’s already in the news, find a fresh angle.
To qualify as news, it also needs to have some significance to the readers of the outlets you’re targeting.
This might mean the story happened (or is going to happen) where their audience is located. In news language, this is called proximity.
Or perhaps it’s topical for some other reason. This is called relevance.
Timeliness, proximity and relevance are what’s known as ‘news values’ and they are used by journalists to determine which stories hit the front page and which don’t. There are actually seven news values and the more you hit with your press release, the more likely your story is to get a run.
Be a journalist so they don’t have to
I can’t emphasise this enough. Make the journalist’s job as easy as humanly possible when writing a press release.
The essential elements of a news story are facts, quotes and a photo. Include these three things and you’re halfway there.
Your release should follow the same format as a newspaper article with the key information at the top, followed by further details, direct quotes and less crucial information towards the end.
This is known as the reverse pyramid.
Provide written quotes to save busy reporters from having to phone you for an interview.
Include everything they could possibly need into the email, and provide a contact for any follow-up queries.
Note: this doesn’t mean attaching huge files to your email. If you’re including images, PDFs or other attachments, make them available via Dropbox or another cloud-based service.
Get straight to the point
Waffling is the kiss of death for a press release. Don’t do it.
Save your creative writing for another day – because press releases should be straightforward and to the point.
Write your first draft, then go through and cut any sentences that don’t add to the story. Then read each sentence and cut any words that don’t add meaning to the sentence. See where we’re going with this?
Journalists are not impressed by big words and long sentences.
Use simple language and get straight to the point.
Need help with writing a press release? Major Key Media provides flat rate services to help get your news published.
Contact us for a free quote.