14 Tips to Get Your Press Release Published
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a very interesting discussion on Facebook regarding the art of writing press releases The conversation included PR professionals and journalists from around the world.
The discussion gave me knowledge from the “journalists’ side” of publishing press releases. I was surprised, and astonished by some of their stories. I wish I was able to show some of the press releases they shared with some obvious mistakes. Unfortunately, I am not authorised to publish these press releases, but I took note of the mistakes, and used them to create tips on how to avoid such mistakes to ensure your press release stands a chance of being used by the media.
14 tips to write a great press release:
- Ask yourself the questions: What message do I want to give to the target audience? How will readers relate to it? Without a clear idea of who you are writing the release for and why, you will not be able to capture the audience’s attention.
- Keep your headline simple and clear. Use factual language and avoid superlatives (this is also true for the whole press release). Make your headline attractive to the journalist you are writing to. If you would like to write about a sport event sponsored by a large IT company, make sure you target your writing to appeal to both a sport journalist or an IT magazine.
- Make sure that you include the date of the release. If you want it to be published on a certain date, you will have to make an embargo on releasing by writing it under title.
- Write in the third person and use the past tense. It keeps your facts ordered and cuts down sentences being misused.
- In the first paragraph you must include the “5ws” – the answers for who, what, where, when and why, as well as how. Quite often your release will be shortened to the first paragraph – make sure it includes all the essential facts.
- Avoid jargon. Simple and informative language works best. Remember that you have to put yourself in the “journalist’s shoes” and create a message which will be interesting for their readers as well as themselves.
- Use at least one quote from a credible source. In the second/third paragraph tell the story of the subject of the release and use a meaningful quote. Ideally you will have a CEO, celebrity or the organiser of an event to give few words. It makes it more interesting and gives credibility to the message.
- Make sure that quoted person will be able to give further comments if requested. There is nothing more frustrating than a spokesperson who can not be contactable for further comments after the press release has been published.
- Make sure that you have written the journalist’s name correctly. All your efforts can be down the drain because of a simple misspelling of a name. Triple check, and if you are not sure who to write to, call the magazine or newspaper’s office and ask.
- DON’T USE CAPS LOCK. Over-capitalisation will push away any publisher. If you want to convey an important message, use effective words rather than visual effects. Do not use capital letters to grab readers’ attention.
- Do not advertise! Press releases are not adverts. Their aim is to inform, not to sell.
- Give out your contact details. The more, the better: email, phone, address, fax (if you still use it), or any other contact method.
- If you have any extra information (posters, brochures, short description of your client) attach it as Notes for Editors on a separate sheet or at the end of your email. It could also be used to give away a sample of your product or to promote videos.
- Write ‘END’ where your release finishes. You don’t want your contact details and notes for editors to be published.
Writing a good press release is not easy, but by following these simple rules you could achieve a much higher publishing rate.
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