The Art of a Strong Press Release

The Art of a Strong Press Release

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If you want to make headlines, the first contact a journalist will have with your story will be through your press release. If you sell yourself short, you’ll end up with no coverage and a flat campaign.

Writing an effective press release is an art form that not many people can get right. It’s about selling your story, pointing out the hook and ensuring it’s relevant to the audience. If you’re looking for some tips on how to produce a strong press release, you’re in the right place.

What to include

First things first, you need to know what information to include. A general rule to follow is to make sure that your press release answers the following:

Who? – Who is the press release about?

What? – What have they done? What is the story?

Why? – Why is this worth sharing?

Where? – Where are they based? Where did the story take place?

When? – When did it happen?

How? – How did it happen?

Answer these all-important questions and you’re already on your way to creating a strong press release.

What’s your angle?

Journalists will receive lots of press releases each day, so it’s important a journalist can instantly identify what your story is all about. Make sure your angle is strong enough to grab their attention − if you can’t imagine the publication running with such a story, don’t approach them.

Think about what new information your release provides and who will be interested in the story. If you’ll be targeting a few different audiences or types of publication, it may be worth tweaking the press release to suit their interests.

Consider your prospects

Think strategically about who you’ll be sending your press release to. Do your research beforehand and look into which journalists have covered similar stories. You can then use this not only to ensure you speak to the right person, but also to establish that, should they publish your article, it will be reaching your target audience.

It’s all about the subject line

As journalists receive so many emails, it’s vital that you use an eye-grabbing subject line that will pique their interest − just make sure the title is relevant to your story and sums up its main angle.

Include statistics and quotes

Journalists have very busy work lives, so do the work for them and you’re more likely to gain coverage. Where possible, include statistics that develop the story and include direct quotes from the people involved. It’s even better if you have statistics of your own to use, but if not, refer to some other powerful statistic that relates to your story. This way, if a journalist likes your story, they can run with it right away and not spend precious time researching stats or conducting interviews.

The first paragraph is everything

Not everybody will make it to the end of your press release, and many will skim-read through. Sum up the story in the first paragraph and then use the rest of the press release to support your main point.

Never attach the press release as a document

If people have to make extra effort to download your press release and open it, you’re already losing their interest. Under your initial email, copy and paste the press release − having all information in one place will be extremely helpful to busy journalists.

Follow-up

Just because you haven’t had a response from a publication, it doesn’t mean it’s a flat out ‘no’. In a few days’ time, follow up with the prospect to make sure they have all they need to run the story. They may have simply been too busy to read your email the first time round and following up can help add a sense of urgency for them to reply.

Keep it short and sweet

You want to keep people interested and the longer your press release is, the less likely you are to keep hold of their attention. Focus on providing the necessary information and know when to stop. Aim for one to two pages, including contact details and any notes to editor – any more and you run the risk of losing interest.

Provide contact details

Your press release should contain everything the journalist needs, but there are times when they may ask for more information or request supporting documents. Include an email address and phone number so that someone can get in touch. If a journalist can’t find contact details and needs to verify something, chances are they’ll just give up on the story.

Check for errors

Before pressing send, check for errors. Mistakes will happen – even Google has been found guilty of this – but it’s worth taking the time out to try and avoid them. Double check every fact and figure and ensure that any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors have been rectified. If a journalist sees something is badly written, they’re not going to be too impressed.

And finally…

Keep an eye on how well your story is doing. Not every journalist will tell you when they’ve published your story, so set up alerts and monitor the news for any updates.

For more helpful tips and suggestions, keep an eye on our blog and follow us on Twitter for updates from Peppermint HQ. And if you’re looking for some help with your own campaigns, why not get in touch.