We all have good intentions for maximum publicity when it comes to crafting a release and pitching a story to a reporter. The problem is, what may seem important to you or your clients may not catch the eye of a reporter, or even be considered newsworthy by a reporter. Here are some tips to make sure your press releases have the best chance of getting noticed:
Create an attention-getting headline
Your headline should be short and concise, and should maintain a strong tie-in to the main content of your release. The headline is meant to capture the attention and should be relevant to a reporter’s audience. The headline should create excitement and lay the groundwork for what is to come next. I believe the headline is the most important aspect of press release content because it is the portal to the rest of your release.
Tell your story up front
Since you don’t want to waste a reporter’s time and you want to communicate the gist of what your story is about, make sure to cover, within the first two sentences, the who, what, where, when, why and how of your story. Your headline may take care of some of the five W’s, but you really need to make sure your first sentences do it all up front. Many reporters just read the headline and the first sentence to determine whether or not they want to pursue your topic with a mention or story.
Make your story relevant
Don’t stop short by simply promoting a product or service. Go the extra mile to point out how the product or service benefits your local audience. Try to wear the hat of your audience, and make it relevant to their world in detail. Spell out for a reporter how a product provides a solution, makes lives easier, or simply why the news you have is important to their audience.
Create immediacy to your story
The main purpose for writing a press release is to share news or a story in breaking fashion. I once had a co-worker tell me that there was no urgency to the news and information I was sharing with clients. I took that advice to heart and started creating stories that were news-flash style for all types of news, not just breaking news. If I was communicating a new industry guideline or rate change, I would do a client - targeted release that made them think it was the most important thing they’d heard all week long, and would relate the news back to how it affected their business. It helps to place the words For Immediate Release on any press release, and create verbiage that speaks to that, such as, “Company x has just announced…” Doing this will make your news seem immediate and fresh.
Include quotes from experts
A majority of the press releases you write will contain content that you received from research, or from a source other than yourself. Likewise, almost always there is someone who has more expertise on the topic. Your release will have more credibility if you quote an expert from your organization or your client’s organization. That person also can serve as an optimal interview candidate for reporters when they want more information included in their story.
Let readers know they have come to the end of your release
It is important to signal to readers that there is no more content to see by placing an -end- or ### at the end of your release. That way, the audience isn’t left wondering if there is more to come. Just as it is important to signal the beginning of your release with a headline, the end also needs to be identified.