The media release (or press release, it's used interchangeably) used to be a staple in every campaign, the foundation for an announcement of any kind – new product, new employee, new research, new brand, new event, old product with the name slightly tweaked to try and make it sound new…
Not long after I started in the industry the social media explosion really hit and fundamentally changed the way we communicate (well, for some, for others in the corporate world it took a loooong time for them to accept the need to change!)
These days a press release is often a nice-to-have-but-not-essential addition to a campaign.
As often as not you now see news being officially announced through an Instagram post, a vine or through personalised pitches.
BUT, even with all these awesome new options, the good ol’ media release is still a great way to get FREE media coverage for your brand and is a definite asset to have within your comms tool kit!
If you don’t see yourself as a ‘wordsmith’, writing a media release can be a bit daunting, but it need not be with my handy-dandy media release writing 101 tips.
These 7 little tricks will have you writing releases like a pro! So get your pencils ready kids, here we go J.
1. Start with your audience - Think about your customer/client, not the publication or journalist you’re going through to reach them.
A journo will always have their audience hat on; they assess every potential story based on whether it’s relevant for their audience, and so you should too. What will be of interest to your customers, how can you add value for them?
The fool proof formula = be informative + interesting.
2. Write from the pointy end – Most journalists write their stories backwards starting with the headline, followed by proof points (stats, facts, figures, who, what, where) and then the background information, like quotes and case studies.
When a journo reads a press release you want to capture their attention as quickly as possible, which means your headline and opening paragraph need to be killer! Within the first few seconds of scanning a media release the journo should know what the news is and why their audience should care.
3. Grab their attention with a killer headline - Like I said above, your headline is super important. A strong headline will capture the crux of the story in one go. What’s the big, shout it from the roof-tops news in your news? Capture that in your headline and you’re off to a winning start.
4. Make it newsworthy – Before you spend time in drafting a release, consider whether your news is legitimately newsworthy. The latest update to your website is a huge win for your brand, but unless you’ve got a game-changing, never-seen-before feature that’s going to shake up your industry and have competitors running scared, it’s probably not going to get you traditional media coverage.
Newsworthiness means that what you’re announcing has an impact on, or interest for the audience you’re trying to reach. Again, think about your audience first and why they should care.
To make your news more newsworthy it can help to tie your announcement to a timely event or time of year (bikini-ready cleanse at the start of summer, new line of jewellery around Valentine’s Day).
5. Know your key messages – When you boil it down, what is at the very crux of what you’re trying to communicate to your audience? Do you want to tell people about a new product, position yourself as a thought leader, or to share new research or resources?
Be very clear on the essence of what you’re trying to say and make sure that your release communicates this point.
6. Include the why – it’s all well and good to tell people what your news is, but it’s also important to tell them why they should care, spell out the benefits! Don’t assume this is self-explanatory, give your audience a reason to care, a beneficial outcome, an opportunity to follow up and take some action.
7. Quotes – Use quotes to add value and personality to your release; it’s an opportunity for you to be a bit more personal and it gives you the chance to speak directly to your ideal audience in your own voice.
8. Ditch the salesyness – (So I know I said 7 tips, but I’ve got another bonus one just for you :) .)
A media release is not a sales pitch and it’s not an ad.
This is a really important point to remember – this is not a chance for you to cram all your marketing messages into one document, this is about generating interest in legitimate news which will help to raise awareness of your brand and your products/services.
Of course you should include information about who you are and what you do, but take out the sales spin and remember –
Informative and interesting.
Follow these tips and tricks and you’ll be well on your way to writing an awesome and effective press release.
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