The press release is a great way to get your news out to your target press and media. The key is to understand what journalists want and expect. If you can get in tune with that and have a good knowledge of how they work then it can help to ensure your press release has impact. If you are going to take on the task of doing your own PR then it’s essential that you are aware of the following five points. There are, of course, many others, but these will help you to get your messages across in a way that ticks the boxes for journalists:
- Remember that your focus must be on news. A press release is not an alternative method of advertising with the aim of getting in as many mentions of the company as possible. That is a big turn off for any journalist even if you have a news story to tell. It’s important to focus on the human interest element of the news – who is affected and how.
- Get your news up front in your press release. You have very limited time in which to get the journalist interested. Lose them as they are reading the first paragraph, or indeed the title, and all your efforts will have been wasted. It’s also a good way to test the story. If just the first paragraph was used would the story hold up, is it clear and understandable from just those first couple of sentences?
- Check how your target journalists want to receive press releases and notification of news stories.. Tailoring your approach will give you a much greater impact.
- Ensure any quotes are reasonably high up in the release. Editors edit from the bottom of a press release up.
- Less is more. Only write enough copy to get your points across – there is no room here for masses of copy. If you are tempted to do that then you need to question whether this is a news story or a feature.
- Follow up on your press releases but don’t just call and ask the journalist if they have received your press release. You must engage them and offer them something more than what you have already sent them.