How To Write A Press Release That Gets Published
All journalists are pushed for time, more than ever these days with less staff and extra online content to supply. They are inundated with press releases and other stories so you have to try to do two things. First, make it stand out. For example, make sure you are telling a story that involves human interest, conflict or celebrity or something else that you know they’re interested in. Secondly, make it easy to use by minimising the work they have to do on it, which means writing in their style and according to their needs.
I apply 29 ‘rules’ to writing my media releases. These are the key ones.
1. Keep the headline simple and factual (the sub-editors like to use their own puns and dramatic language).
2. The first sentence should contain the information Who What Where & When but not necessarily in that order. The second sentence should say Why.
3. Remember that the editor may only use (or even read) your first paragraph so the first or second sentence must contain the most interesting/important fact. After that, put the facts in descending order of importance and gradually introduce more details.
4. Keep sentences short and use the active voice (‘she did this’, not ‘this was done by her’).
5. Use simple, lively language and avoid jargon and clichés (‘like the plague’).
6. Avoid negatives– there is always a danger that someone along the way will leave out the word ‘not’ by accident and totally change the meaning.
7. “You must use direct quotes and the sooner the better,” said Paul Lewis.
There are many more outlets for press releases than there used to be and email makes them much easier to send and to target. Make sure you cover all the multitude of smaller specialist news sites and bloggers but do get a named person whenever you can. Whenever possible, follow up with a phone call to make sure they received (or noticed) the release and to see if they need any more information.
If you’d like advice on improving your press releases or you’d like me to write and send them, call Seven Experience on 07946 981733 or email email@example.com
This article was written by Paul Seven Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy Seven Experience and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.