Press releases are an important part of every public relations strategy. Although the format of a press release is simple, the content should be anything but. Reporters’ mail boxes get flooded with press releases from companies every day, so make sure that yours stand out from the bunch by following the steps below.
1. Hook the journalist
According to renowned novelist Stephen King, “an opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this”.
This is true for novels and press releases – seeing as you only have a few seconds to catch the journalist’s attention (at most), do yourself a favour and put some effort into being creative in the subject line of the email. Don’t be tempted by the old “Company X Announcement”-phrase!
A proper headline is equally important. Ideally, your headline should tell the whole story – the who, what, where, and why of the story – as well as creating interest. “In spite of financial crisis, entrepreneur lands big contract,” is boring. “Entrepreneur doubles sales in one year,” is exiting.
2. What’s the story?
Although yourpurpose of writing a press release is to create publicity for your product or cause, don’t just rewrite the information sheet. Think instead of and ask yourself: Include a subject, a place, an action, a mood. is a cliché, and for good reason. Paint pictures and communicate your message by telling a story. The journalist, as well as his readers, will be grateful.
3. Is it newsworthy?
If you want your release to appear in the newspapers, choose an angle that fits the news criteria. Not all criteria have to be fulfilled, but they serve as a useful checklist for the newsworthiness of your release. Also, make sure your story fits the news triangle, as it will make it easier for the journalist to cut down and edit the text later.
4. Shoot to hit
If you don’t know your target, you’re probably going to miss it. Instead of spamming away, do the journalist a favor by targeting your press release to the particular medium and its readership. Remember, the journalist’s job is to write interesting articles suited for his particular audience, and your job is to help him. Giving you both credibility and a bigger chance of hitting the columns, the extra time is well spent.
5. Provide information
An article typically needs information like recent numbers, facts from a new study, and names of your sources. Pictures (GOOD pictures!) are a big advantage, and can make the difference between secondary and front-page material. Most medias need high-resolution pictures that cannot always be sent by email – if possible, you should down scale them and include a link to the full sized images in the mail.
6. Timing, timing, timing
Last, but not least, timing is key. Journalists receive most press releases just before and after lunch. That resonates badly with the fact that most releases are opened between 8am and 9am, after which the ratio decreases fast during the day. The day starts early at the editorial offices, so get your foot in the door by starting early too.
Did you know that Hypefactors’ Newsdesk allows you to create eye-pleasing press releases, find the right contacts and track the opening rate of shared releases? Learn more.