By Jona Ohm, APR
Press releases are a powerful tool for businesses to share news, attract media attention, build brand awareness and shape public perception. To write a press release that will accomplish this, it’s crucial to understand what reporters look for in newsworthiness, how to put together a good press release and how to personalize your pitch for each outlet or reporter you plan to contact.
Let’s start with newsworthiness. There are eight essential elements that set news apart from advertising:
- Impact- Your press release should clearly address how your news affects the audience. Highlight the consequences or benefits, making it clear why readers should care.
- Timeliness– Reporters are more likely to cover stories that are fresh and relevant, so emphasize what’s new and current about your information. Fossils aren’t new, but the discovery of fossils in a different location is.
- Prominence- Establish your credibility by explaining what qualifies you or your client to share this particular story. Always answer the question, “Why are you telling me this?”
- Proximity– Demonstrate how your news impacts the audience directly. Make it relevant to the readers, viewers or listeners of the media outlets you’re sharing with.
- The Bizarre– Find the unusual angle in your story. Reporters are drawn to unique and intriguing narratives that capture attention.
- Conflict– Explore different perspectives surrounding the issue at hand. Presenting conflicting viewpoints can add depth and interest to your press release.
- Currency– Consider whether your news is trending. Journalists are more likely to cover stories that align with current interests and discussions.
- Human Interest– Personalize your story within a broader context. Highlight the human aspect to make your press release relatable and engaging.
Now that you know why you are writing a press release and understand the key elements, here are 9 steps for crafting an effective press release:
- Start with a Clear, Interesting Headline-Grab attention with a concise and compelling headline and subhead that convey the essence of your news.
- Provide the Date and Location-Establish this context of your news upfront.
- Summarize the Important Details-Answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how in the opening paragraphs, providing a clear overview.
- Provide additional Context in an Unbiased Voice-Present additional information in an honest and unbiased manner, avoiding promotional language.
- Eliminate Jargon-Ensure your press release is accessible by eliminating industry-specific jargon. This kind of language has the potential to confuse or alienate readers, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Add a Quote-Include a quote that adds depth and perspective to your story. Quotes should be authentic and relevant, coming from someone directly impacted by the news or a subject matter expert who can shed light on the issue.
- Include Contact Information-Clearly state how your audience can get more information. This also makes it easy for reporters to follow up.
- Summarize your Business or Client with a Boilerplate– A boilerplate is a short paragraph at the end of a press release that summarizes a company’s core business information. It becomes a standard copy and should be used consistently and without edits for every press release.
- Sign Off Appropriately-Conclude your press release with industry-appropriate sign-offs such as ###, -30-, or XXX.
After crafting your press release, personalize your pitch for each journalist or outlet you’re targeting. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the information I’m sharing connected to their audience or location? Relevance should be highlighted right away.
- Is my press release helpful to their work? Press releases about summer vacations are not timely or helpful when people are thinking about Christmas and Hanukkah.
- Do they cover this kind of news regularly? Know who you’re talking to and what they cover. Be sure your press release provides valuable information or complements their regular coverage. Sports writers are not interested in your spring cleaning tips, ever.
To learn more about this aspect of media relations, check out our recent blog post on what it takes to build relationships with journalists and media outlets.
By following these guidelines in crafting and sending press releases, you’ll increase your chances of attracting valuable media attention as well as building a lasting relationship with journalists who find value in your press releases.
At Avant Solutions, we are ready to provide your team with the tools and strategies necessary for effective media relations that will build a solid foundation for your brand. Ready to learn more? Schedule an impact session to start shaping 2024 into your best year yet!