Press releases are still a vital part of communication despite some people arguing that the press release is dead because of social media.
Creating a great media release in the age of social content is easy enough with some structure and thinking about your audience.
Media outlets, freelance journalists and bloggers still look for that stand-out press release that will help them meet their content writing quota for the day. If you make it easy for them by writing a great press release, you're sure to get the right kind of attention.
it shouldn't be assumed that everyone knows how to write a great press release or that everyone knows what one is. Not everyone has the luxury of professional training when it comes to their PIO role - particularly if it's a part-time or secondary duty.
When it comes to creating proactive campaigns or communicating important messages for your organizational narrative, the press release is still a vital piece of your communication toolbox.
Follow a standard structure every time and you'll be sure to get the key facts out there.
Remember your branding
Always make sure your press releases look consistent and on brand. That means a clear header with your logo, organization name and website. Be sure it's formatted correctly and of high quality in case the logo is copied and used in an article.
Get to the point and follow the five W's
Journalists receive hundreds, if not thousands of press releases. You need to convey the most important information first to get their attention.
- Who it is about
- What they have done/are doing
- Where this took place or is taking place
- When things happened / will be happening
- Why this matters
Keep it short, keep it simple
The length of online article has now reduced and is usually littered with ads and clickbait. Unless you're negotiating for a long read, you need to ensure that what you're saying works well within the confines of online news. and the fact that people are more likely to read it on a mobile device.
Be ready for copy paste
If you write it well enough and there's no editorial slant from the publication, it's highly likely that your press release could be lifted word for word. Write like a journalist and you're more likely to get your exact copy published, which helps you control the narrative more effectively.
Provide useful statistics
If you're able to provide any facts or statistics to support your press release, even better. This gives credence to your story and adds meat to the bones for the journalist. It should be a couple of facts that are punchy and help add context to your release. It doesn't always have to be something serious; journalists like quirky facts that are different from the run of the mill death, arrest or success stats.
Think bite size social
It used to be that you would think in soundbites - for example, how would it sound on the radio? Now think about how would this look in a social media post. Once you've written your release, try to break it down into tweets and see how it sounds. This is what will happen when (if) your release is published as a story. Be sure not to provide any unintentional negative social quotes that are out of context.
Reduce the need for follow up
You want to save the journalist time by anticipating what they need. They usually come back for a quote, a picture and a fact.
Image and video are crucial. If you don't provide it, someone else will and you won't be able to control how that looks or sounds. Provide high quality, branded content and host it on your own drives that are easily accessible (password protected for anything that's under embargo) and provide links to download easily.
Provide everything up front, ensuring it is of good quality and by making the job easy for them, you're more likely to get published, asked for more stories in the future and foster good media relationships for when you really need it.
If it ain't broke...
Don't be afraid to fashion your press release until you know it works. Yes, there are templates that can be used but you also need to ensure it truly reflects your organization as well as providing what everyone needs.
Once you hit the right formula for what works for you and your stakeholders then use that template and ensure everyone in your organization does. Under pressure, it's the perfect way to ensure a consistent and professional message every time.
Contact details and follow up
Always ensure you include contact details. It may sound obvious, but many rely on the email they attached the release to as their main calling card. If this release gets forwarded or printed out and there aren't any contact details included, it's dumped straight away.
Be sure that once you've sent it, it's been received with a quick call. Following up with the journalist that you're keen to have cover your story will also help build that all-important relationship.
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