There’s no doubt that social media has changed the marketing and PR landscape.
But when it comes to getting your story heard – whether you’re launching a business, introducing a new product, holding an event, or announcing a new hire – you still can’t beat a good news story (or two) to help spread the word.
But how can you make sure your news makes the news?
While a savvy online post or tweet can reach a targeted audience – including the media – when it comes to convincing news outlets that your story’s got legs, nothing beats the good old-fashioned press release.
Luckily, everything you need to know about writing an effective news release can be summed up in five steps:
Write a great headline
Your headline is the hook that will reel the media in and make them want to learn more. So it needs to be compelling and specific. It needs to answer the question: Why should I care?
If you’ve got something exciting to say, put it in your headline!
Summarize your news in the opening paragraph
Your press release should begin with the location and the date, followed by a one-sentence summary of your announcement. Try fleshing out your headline with a bit more detail!
Your opening paragraph should be brief, and should include all the key information you’d like to share about your announcement.
Ask yourself: If people only read this first paragraph, what do they need to know?
Elaborate in the body
After the opening paragraph comes the body – three or four paragraphs where you can elaborate on the who, what, when, where and why of your announcement. The most ‘news-worthy’ information should come first.
Don’t forget to include at least one quote from a company representative, industry expert, or satisfied client. This gives your message a human voice (and makes it easier for print media to use your release as-is).
The boring boilerplate
The boilerplate is a short paragraph that helps bring journalists up-to-speed about your business or organization. A boilerplate can include your mission statement and any key facts you want to share, as well as a link to your website.
(To identify that it’s a boilerplate, simply write the name of your company in bold above the text).
Put your boilerplate after the body, but before the contact information.
Don’t forget the contact details
It might seem obvious, but don’t forget to include the name and contact information of the best person to handle any follow up questions. Make sure they are able, willing and available to speak with the media!
A few more tips:
A photo is worth a thousand words….so if you’ve got a great, high resolution image to help tell your story, include it with your release. Don’t forget the photo credit (if needed)! In today’s online world, a video link can be great, too.
Check your facts
Journalists work on tight deadlines. That means they may decide to pull information directly from your release to write their story, or simply ‘dump’ your release as-is…without doing a follow-up interview.
So before you send out your release, make sure your facts are correct, your sources are happy with their quotes, and that you are properly representing your brand.
Send it to the right people
You can always use an online distribution system like newswire.ca, but getting your release into the hands (or inbox) of the right journalist greatly improves your chances of making the news.
Pay attention to local bylines, and take some time to dig up personal (work) emails. Most media outlets have contact information somewhere on their websites. Or, try picking up the phone and ask.
If writing a press release sounds like a lot of work or you just aren’t sure you’ll get it right, consider hiring a PR professional or copywriter (like me!)
How do you get your story heard?