There is nothing better than creating a release and then seeing it featured online or in paper. But what steps do you need to take to ensure your story generates the coverage it deserves and sparks the interest of journalists?
Below I provide 6 top tips to creating a winning press release. Stand out from the crowd and get your story heard!
- Is your story newsworthy and will anyone care?
The first question to ask yourself when starting to write a release is, do you have a story that is newsworthy and will anyone care? The key to this is ensuring you pick the right angle for your release, drawing out the elements that are relevant to the specific journalist, publication, blogger etc. Do your research and pay careful consideration to the types of publications or online platforms your story is most relevant for and where they are based and create a targeted distribution list. For example there is little point in pitching a regional business story to a national magazine within the culture sector for example.
For a business title, this could be a story about growth, expansion or new appointments. Draw out the most important elements of the story and pitch it to your target audience. What may be news for you, may not necessarily be news to wider readership.
- Your intro paragraph is the most important – cover the what, why, where and when
Journalists are pressed for time and as you can imagine will receive hundreds of press releases a day so it’s important to cut to the chase in your opening paragraph and get the essence of your story across within the first few lines. That essentially includes covering the what, why, where, and when in the first few lines. This ensures that should the journalist read no further they understand the main jist of the story and know whether it is something they want to pursue.
- Write your story in reverse
We talked about the intro paragraph being a key part of your press release and putting as much of the story in the first few lines but after that what works best? From my experience I always put the most relevant information first working backwards, adding the detail and background information towards the story at the end. Think of it a bit like a pyramid in structure.
- Paperclips! Contacts details and notes to editors
Be careful to format your release clearly so that the journalist knows where to go should they need extra information. Contact details at the top of the release work well, as do a notes to editor section at the end with additional information such as links to websites and blogs and a possible FAQ section. If using a press photo be sure to detail what is in the image, noting any names and job titles of people from left to right.
- Create a winning title – keep it short and to the point
The key to a winning title is to keep it short and direct. The title simply and concisely needs to tell the journalist what the release is about so they get the essence of the story immediately. Stay clear of witty and obscure titles. Be upfront, the journalist needs to know what your story is all about straight away.
- Press photos – A picture paints a thousand words
You know what they say but a picture really does paint a thousand words. Using a press photo to accompany your release can really help sell in your story and give it more space in paper/ online. Consider appointing the services of a good photographer skilled in taking press photos. The best photographers know what journalists are looking for. This could be anything as simple as finding a quirky angle for the press photo or using a striking backdrop. Clearly the content of the release has to be strong and well targeted but I have known of many journalists who have covered what they would have normally classed as ‘average’ stories because of a strong press photo.