You’re a business keen to get your brand noticed. One such way is to get your news published in the media. Whether targeting local media, like Channel Eye or seeking national or even international coverage, sharing your news in the right format is important.
But getting the media and journalists to accept your stories to publish isn’t always that easy, especially when they receive so many news releases on any given day.
How can my story stand out from the others?
What do I need to do to ensure my news gets published?
The answer to these questions begins with creating a good press release.
Having recently chatted with Channel Eye’s Managing Director, Tim Bullock, I was surprised to hear that not all the releases he receives are as good as the next.
While many companies are lucky enough to employ PR agencies who know how to write a good release, many sadly can’t.
If you fall into that camp, don’t despair, this blog will give you my top ten tips on writing a great press release and getting your news published.
1. Start with a stand-out title
Make sure to give your press release a bold title that explains in a nutshell what the release is about. Don’t try and be clever or fancy with your title. It should be ‘Ronseal’ (it does what it says on the tin).
If it’s an appointment press release, try something like ‘Experienced change manager joins local practice to boost presence on Island’. Or if it’s a new service launch, you could try something like, ‘Local trustees respond to rising client demand with new portal’.
It’s also worth noting that the journalist may choose to change your title, so don’t be disappointed if they change it to something they believe is more suitable.
2. Write in the third person
When writing your press release, consider the voice you are using.
Journalists prefer that you write in the third person. Even if the release is about you, do not write in the I format – instead, write in the third person: ‘Jo Buchanan has today launched a blog on how to write a winning press release.’
3. Make your first paragraph count
Your first paragraph must grab the attention of the reader. It needs to lay down the what, why, when and how. Don’t leave the purpose of your press release to your third or fourth paragraph, as the reader, aka the journalist, will have already binned it. Instead, make sure to set the scene early.
‘Experienced change manager Brenda Gilbert joins Make A Change inc. today. The newly appointed Change Principle will focus on building the company’s presence locally and aims to enable Make A Change to become the change management firm of choice amongst the local healthcare community.’
This paragraph includes the What, i.e. this release is to announce a new appointment for Make a Change. It includes the when, as it notes, Brenda’s appointment begins today. And it includes the why. Why has Brenda been hired? To help expand Make A Change into the local healthcare industry.
Journalists can quickly grasp the release’s content and decide whether to read on. Remember, they can receive many releases in one day, and if it takes them more than a minute to work out the purpose of the release, they may move on to one that does.
4. Don’t make it too salesy
You’ve just launched a new service and want people to hear about it. Sending a press release to the local business news anchors is a great way to promote your business and the new service, but take heed to ensure your content doesn’t come across as too salesy. Journalists do not like blatant promotion.
Instead, focus on explaining the features and benefits the service can bring to clients. Allow the reader to determine if it is worth following up on, don’t push the message.
5. Don’t shorten links
If you want to refer the reader to a page on your website, including a link is a good idea. But don’t try and shorten the link, as journalists prefer the original version. They might deem the link to be a security risk if it is shortened. What’s more, if you’re sending your press release to the media and haven’t paid for any form of advertising, don’t expect the journalist to include the link if they publish it.
6. Add an About Us section
Offer some background information about your company to give more context to the story. You should include this at the end of your press release. It can help the journalist pad out your story if needed.
7. Only include embargoes if absolutely necessary
Add an embargo to your press release if you don’t want your news published until a certain date or time. But only use them sparingly, as journalists don’t really like them. But if an embargo is necessary, make sure it is clear, and add capital letters at the top of your release in red “EMBARGOED UNTIL 07:00 AM FRIDAY 17 MARCH 2023.”
8. Make it easy for the media to contact you
At the end of your press release, add some contact details after the About Us section so journalists can easily contact someone in the know if they need more information or an additional quote. You can add contact details for the person who wrote the press release, the person related to the release, or the person who knows most about the release. What’s more, when you distribute the press release, make sure to add the details of someone available to speak to the media when the press release is issued.
9. Offer interviews
If you would like to offer the media the opportunity to interview you or a colleague, add a section after the end of the release and entitle it “Interview Opportunity”. Tell the media who is available for an interview and when.
10. Share an image
Sharing images associated with the release is always very welcome. If the release relates to an appointment or promotion, include a high-resolution image of the person. Anything over 800kb is high enough resolution for printing. You should share the image in PNG or JPEG and PDF format if you have it. If you send an image that is too low in resolution, the media won’t inform you and simply won’t use it.