The main objective in your public relation campaign is to maximize publicity and media coverage. But also bear in mind that in order to convince top tier media platforms to publish those press releases you distribute on a mass scale – you need to cater to the media platforms’ needs. Who are their target readers? What is a specific angle this reporter prefers to write about?
PR is a lot about trial and error pitches but for today let’s focus on one of the key components of your campaign – the press release.
Personally I have always detested writing press releases because of the manner in which press releases are required to be written by your direct managers and clients. I believe that the raison d’atre of a press release is to provide journalists valuable and sufficient information, not to be painstakingly rewritten to rival Khalil Gibran’s writing style. Even worse when you spent weeks rewriting press releases only to have your release rejected by journalists.
As much as I hate writing press releases, one thing that makes it worthwhile is when you focus on the main aspects which make the release newsworthy or valuable to a reporter. This increases the chances of your story being picked up and puts to bed that unwanted feeling of wasting weeks over writing a useless release.
Let’s get serious. How do you write a newsworthy press release?
Relevance to Current On goings
First things first, what do you mean by newsworthy? Newsworthy in a sense that the topic of your press release relates back to current ongoing events and trends would score you major brownie points with journalists. No journalist is going to publish any press release about another detox juice release in the midst of Perhimpunan Agung UMNO. Also consider the editorial calendar or plan which most publications use as a guideline in planning their content. If your release has absolutely no connection to their current plan, it is more difficult and challenging to persuade a media friend to publish your story.
Let’s say you can’t find a way of relating it back to current events, then try at least to ensure your release is announcing a monumental change which affects society – the people who you want to read this announcement.
Take for example you want to announce the launch of your e-sports tournament or maybe a fitness competition. Great. But what else is there to it? How does your tournament differ from the thousands of tournaments organized previously? How does your tournament affect the readers – your target market to join this tournament?
Answer the Main 5Ws 1H
Once you’ve sealed a newsworthy topic, help yourself draft the release by answering these crucial questions:
- What is happening?
- Where is it happening?
- When is it happening?
- Why is it happening? Also, bear in mind why should a journalist care about this happening?
- Who is this affecting?
- How did it happen?
If you yourself can’t answer these questions, imagine how are you about to face a journalist who will request that you justify why he or she should publish your story. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, the objective of a press release is to support a journalist with additional information to help them prepare and publish a story. Sure, press releases should be short and concise, even so straight to the point. But if the release is too short or can barely answer the fundamental questions a journalist has in mind – then ask yourself, what is the point of even sending out this press release?
When one door closes, another door opens. If you have used up all your contacts at the sports desk and yet no one budges when it comes to publishing this release, consider re-angling your story to appeal to different desks – women, lifestyle, health, tech, etc.
For instance did you know that when you prepare a press release announcing the launch of a Mommy Mobile App to help working mothers find nearby assistance with their babies, you can actually expand your media outreach apart from just the startup newsdesk and tech editors? Since the app is targeted at working moms, by re-angling your press release you can approach the women desk and lifestyle desk. In this situation you are increasing the chances of your story being published instead of closing down possibilities.
Use Infographics and Pie Charts
If your press release is data and numbers heavy, another good idea is to replace an entire paragraph with pie charts and infographics. It adds colour to your press release and it helps the editor and journalist which you’re pitching to get straight to the point. When I read a data driven press release which exceeds 2 pages, I must confess my eyes glaze over and I can only think about going home to a steaming plate of Nasi Kandar. Should I be the benchmark of a reasonable man who comes face to face with data driven press releases on a daily basis, imagine how difficult it will be for you to get your story across.