1. Pretend you are the journalist
You will be submitting your press release to a journalist or editor. Imagine you are a nosy reporter asking a lot of juicy and newsworthy questions.
2. DO NOT submit your press release to the advertising department!
If you do, you will most likely be told that you need to spend a whole lot of money to have your story published. It is the advertising persons job to tell you this but its not necessarily the case if your story is newsworthy enough. Please research for the right person in the media establishment to write to; whether it be the sports journalist, fashion editor, or producer.
3. Write in the third person
A common mistake made by small businesses writing their own press releases is doing so, in the first person. That means they make statements such as, 'I'm opening a new shop', rather than, 'Bob Stobble is opening a new shop'. Step outside yourself and write from the journalists point of view when writing this professional story.
4. Write a list covering the basics
Quickly jot down: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How on a rough piece of paper.
5. Begin writing
Write as if the reader will only read the FIRST paragraph. That is, write the most important, current/timely and interesting information first. Statistics show many readers will not read past the first paragraph. When formatting your information, imagine an upside-down triangle with all the juicy and important facts in the big part of the triangle. The less important information then tapers off to the point at the end of your piece.
6. Be concise
Write about 3-4 sentences per paragraph. Introduce new information in new paragraphs. Leave a space between each paragraph. Try to keep your press release limited to 3-4 paragraphs if possible. The less words the better. Read your press release out loud as if you are reporting the news and if it sounds 'newsy', you're on the right track.
7. Write a short, catchy headline
This is where cheesy word play, puns and alliteration can actually be OK, so have fun with it!
8. Use the correct Press/Media Release Set up
Write 'Press Release' or 'Media Release' at the top of the page. Use 1.5 or double spacing. Use the company logo and set your press release out like you would a professional letter. Put your company details on the left hand side first, then the media details below. Leave a space then write the date, then write the headline in bold and centered before your text. Write Dear _____ and use the journalists name so that it shows you have done your research. You want to establish a relationship with this person. Use 'Regards' when signing off and invite the journalist to interview you (or the company rep). Number the pages and write -ends- if it is the last page.
9. Send a product sample (if applicable)
If you can't provide an actual sample, ensure you send good quality digital photos of your product and logo. Perhaps you can get hold of a swatch of material? Think creatively so that the journalist can experience the product, service or event. They will be more likely to report on it if they experience it.
10. Do not send unrelated gifts to sweeten the journalist
They will find this patronizing. Also do not expect the journalist to respond to you. Most times the only way to find out if your story was reported on is by following that media yourself.
So let's say you haven't got anything newsworthy to write about? That's OK! You can create news - that's what public relations is all about. Find out more next post!