21 Dec 2008
Back in the olden days, newspaper and magazine editors would make paper planes from badly written press releases. Now they have the power of the delete button. It’s a tough world out there.
Here are a few tips for getting your press releases published.
Who’s reading this?
Think about who is going to read your news and use the language of the publication. Write different releases for different publications if necessary. What’s great for the local newspaper won’t get a look in at Vogue.
Be a neutral observer
You may be tempted to shout from the rooftops that your product or service is simply the most fabulous thing ever to happen to the universe. Like…ever. Well don’t. Press releases must have a neutral voice and deal with the facts only. It’s up to your customers to decide if your product or service is totally fab.
Newsworthy, timely, unique
Make sure your news release is…well, news. The information on a release should be current, interesting and different. And bear in mind the lead times of some publications – especially monthlies. Sending details of your ‘World Cup offer’, long after the players have packed their fake tan and headed home, won’t win you any brownie points with the editors.
The headline needs to be catchy, not more than ten words and a summary of the entire story.
The first paragraph should be roughly 30 words long, contain the hook of the story and answer the questions, what? why? when? how? where? and who? Say what the news is first – and then who said it.
Editor’s edit from the bottom of a press release upwards so use the inverted pyramid technique i.e. get all the juicy stuff in the first paragraph.
Fluff is what you find down the back of the sofa. Don’t use it in your press release. Remember – you’re a neutral observer so don’t use superlatives and stick to the facts.
This is where you fill in the details – colours; sizes; area of the world covered; where the product is available and who’s going to use it.
Any quotes need to be interesting, and sound like real speech – not like a sales pitch. A quote from your MD saying, “We are pleased to sign this million dollar deal” is dull and obvious. A more useable quote would be, “this new deal means we can open another factory in the North East and create 200 new jobs”.
At the end of the release have the contact name of the person issuing the release, plus a phone number, fax number, email address and website address. Make it as easy as possible for a journalist to get hold of you.
The Editor’s notes at the bottom of the page are an opportunity to give additional background information on the company: How long has your company been in business; what the company does; who is the parent company. Don’t clog this section up with information already in the release.